Edward Packard
Daily Blog

April 24, 2019 

 

Anxiety Report 

 

I’m worried that the Democrats won’t put up the strongest possible candidate to oppose Trump. And I’m worried that some people will be so emotionally involved with their favored candidate that they won’t vote for the nominee if it’s someone else. There are indications that this is a serious danger in the case of Bernie supporters.


Of course, I’ll enthusiastically support the Democratic candidate even if he or she turns out to be my least favorite of those who vied for the nomination.


Here are my favorites –– the five best candidates for the Democrats to nominate. My ranking may –– in fact probably will –– change in the coming months:


  Elizabeth Warren

          Amy Klobuchar

          Kamala Harris    

          Beto O’Rourke

          Pete Buttigieg

 

 

 

 

April 23, 2019 

 

Impeachment 

 

Every member of the House of Representatives has a Constitutional duty to impeach Trump. Morally there is no question it’s the right thing to do; yet arguably it may be counterproductive politically and psychologically! What a dilemma! Best to initiate an investigation of whether there are grounds for impeachment even though we aleady know there are. Proceed deliberately, clinically, unwaveringly, and without missing a beat. 

 

 

 

April 22, 2019 

 

Mueller Redux 

 

it’s likely that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify in May before the House Judiciary Committee. There’s reason to hope that his honest answers to well-constructed questions will reduce the percentage of the population that views Trump favorably. The wheels of justice are grinding, though they grind exceedingly slow.


 

 

April 21, 2019 

 

A Looming Menace 

 

Even in the highly redacted form in which it was made public, the Special Counsel’s Report exposed Russia’s wide-ranging and massive interference in the 2016 presidential election. We’ll never know if that attack on our country was decisive in Trump’s election, but we can be certain that the Russians will try to tilt the 2020 elections the same way and that their efforts will likely be more strenuous and more sophisticated than in 2016. 


 

Combatting this looming menace should be one of the nation’s highest priorities; yet we can expect Trump and his enablers to be inert in the face of it, and, to the extent they think they can get away with it, to encourage it. No one can rest easy until Trump has been sent to prison, or, at the very least, returned to his towers and golf courses.


 

April 20, 2019 

 

The Impeachment Question  

 

The Special Counsel’s Report, even in its redacted from, is replete with evidence that Trump is criminally liable for attempting to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in United States elections. There is no question that Trump should be impeached, convicted, and removed from office. This is not happening only because few, if any, Republican senators would vote to convict Trump regardless of how culpable he is: they themselves are brigands and scoundrels who put personal desires ahead of Constitutional duties. That is the state of affairs in our country today. 


Democrats in Congress –– every one of them –– understands that Trump should be impeached, but they are divided as to whether to initiate proceedings, because they know that impeachment by the House would not lead to removal by the Senate, and many, including their leaders, think that the political and psychological effect of impeachment would be to increase chances that Trump would be reelected. Sadly, they are probably right.


 

 

April 19, 2019 

 

Truth and Tragedy 

 

The redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s Report lays out a 180-page roadmap for prosecution of Trump for obstruction of justice. It comes across clearly that Mueller would have sought to indict Trump were it not for Department of Justice guidelines proscribing indicting a sitting president. Trump toady Attorney General William Barr’s “finding” that Trump did not obstruct justice has been exposed as a fraud and a betrayal of Barr’s Constitutional responsibilities.


 

It’s a great tragedy of our times that so many legislators and officials in positions of power are content to participate in the conversion of the United States from a democracy to an autocracy for what they see as their personal gain, though it gravely damages their country and befouls their own lives.

 

 

 

April 18, 2019 

 

Barr 

 

Attorney General William Barr plans to give a press conference this morning, hours in advance of making the highly redacted Mueller Report public. Why not after people have had a chance to read it and question him on it? He’s wants to give the already truncated report a spin that will linger in people’s minds and he wants to avoid answering hard questions. In choosing to act as Trump’s publicist and defense lawyer, Barr has breached his Constitutional duty to the people of the United States. That’s the level he’s sunk to, joining legions of scoundrels who, at some point in life, for whatever reason, choose the low road. After Barr dies, he’ll live on in disgrace in history books.


 

 

April 17, 2019 

 

Weld 

 

Former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld has launched a primary campaign against Trump. In so doing he is performing a noble public service. Other Republicans dissatisfied with Trump, like former Governor of Ohio John Kasich, have backed off, complaining that they can’t win a primary contest against Trump because a clear majority of Republicans support him. 


That’s not a good enough reason to sit on the sidelines. The foremost responsibility of any politician is to help the nation rid itself of Trump. Trump will not likely be willing to debate Weld, but Weld can convince some who would otherwise vote for Trump in the general election not to do so. Weld should be relentless in exposing Trump's depravity. Honorable Republicans should support Weld vocally and financially. Every Republican that Weld can persuade not to vote for Trump is a victory for Weld, regardless of whether he wins the nomination, and even more so a victory for our country.


 

April 16, 2019 

 

Heroes and Villains 

 

Last evening Rachel Maddow interviewed South Bend, Indiana, mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in an exhibition of civilized, literate, substantive, humanistic discussion of the sort that shines in sharp contrast to the cynical dissembling by characters in Trump orbit like Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Life is dominated by heroes and villains. America’s future will turn on whether voters can tell which is which.

 

 

 

April 15, 2019 

 

Surreal Land


Our country has become surreal land. It’s screamingly obvious that Trump is morally, temperamentally, and intellectually unfit for office; yet instead of acknowledging that one of their own is a monster and removing him from office, Republicans support him and encourage him. They accede to him. They become more like him. They act as if some hallucinatory mental disease has taken over their brains, and there's no indication it will ever run its course.

 

 

 

April 14, 2019 

 

Uplift 

 

Rarely a day goes by that doesn’t brings news of fresh instances of execrable behavior on the part of Trump and his enablers and like-minded dark-souled characters around the world. It’s uplifting to read of exceptions, people who inspire us to reject cynicism and despair and work to bring about a better world: young leaders like New Zealand president Jacinda Ardern, who shone with goodness and strength after the Christ Church massacre, and Slovak President-elect Zuzana Caputova, who announced: “My three priorities are in the areas of rule of law and justice, social care, and protecting the environment.” 

 

 

April 13, 2019 

 

The Race for the Democratic Nomination 

 

Yesterday’s Washington Post 2019 Power Pundit Poll shows Senator Kamala Harris maintaining her first place lead. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, in second and third place respectively, have been scoring higher in various polls, but I guess the pundits ascribe a lot of that to their very high name recognition. Perhaps the pundits feel as I do that Harris will emerge as a stronger and more appealing candidate once they are all lined up on the debate stage before what is likely to be a very large TV audience. 


Or someone else. The times they are a changin’ you know that for sure when you note that a 37-year-old gay mayor of a small mid-western city, Pete Buttigieg, is in 4th place, and a black woman from Georgia, who hasn’t held an office higher than minority leader of a state assembly, Stacey Abrams, is in 9th place, up from 12th a week ago. 


Yes, the times are a changin’. Let's hope for the better. We sure need it.



 

 

April 12, 2019 

 

Notes from the Autocrat’s Handbook (Official 2019 U.S. Edition)

 

1.  Make sure you have enough senators who approve of your autocratic agenda to confirm your appointment of flunkies to key cabinet posts and judgeships.


2.   Make sure you can count on your flunky appointees to support you rather than get hung up on their Constitutional duties. Fire ones, like former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who turn out to have a honorable streak.


3.  Tell your reliable flunky Attorney General –– in this case William Barr –– to deny Congress and the public access to any material in the Special Counsel’s Report that would reflect badly on you and to make up phony excuses for withholding it.


4.  Tell your reliable flunky Treasury Secretary –- in this case Steven Mnuchin –– to refuse to release your tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee as required by law and make up a phony excuses for withholding it.

 

   

 

April 11, 2019 

 

Democratic Strategy 

 

With a dozen or so potential candidates for their presidential  nomination, all of whom are superior to Trump by an astronomically wide margin, the Democratic Party should have a sure road to the White House in next year’s election, but it would be folly for Democrats to be complacent about their prospects. 


Major missteps could lead to the catastrophe of Trump's reelection, and one seems to be in the making. Bernie Sanders has introduced his Medicare-for-All bill. Its aim is worthy, but, to tens of millions of people who are satisfied with their present coverage, it’s likely to be alarming. Even more alarming is that Sanders doesn’t say how much his plan would cost, and how it would be paid for. 


What’s more, because the plan is so generous, it would be enormously expensive. In its present form it's irresponsible, foolish, and highly vulnerable to effective political attack by Republicans. Promoting it would allow the Republicans pivot from playing defensive to coming out swinging: Save America from Socialism! 


Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand have signed on as co-sponsors to Sanders’s plan. In doing so, they’ve done him a favor and themselves, the Democratic Party, and the country a disfavor. All policy proposals should include a realistic accounting of how they will be paid for. 

 

 

 

April 10, 2019 

 

Barr 

 

What a loathsome person is Attorney General William Barr, who while affecting to be following the law is doing everything he can to withhold critical portions of the Mueller report not only from the public, but from Congressional committees charged with oversight. Barr is a star performer in the cadre of Trump enablers attempting to transform the United States from a country subject to the rule of law to one subject to the rule of unprincipled men. All that’s needed for their success is a critical mass of strategically placed complicit elected officials and appointees.

 

 

 

April 9, 2019 

 

Can America Regain Moral Leadership in the World?

 

The Trump effect has been to bring out the worst in our natures. Can the mindset of Americans ever be reset, be retuned to laudable values? Yesterday, Jennifer Rubin, talking about matters that should be central in political discourse leading up to next year's elections, noted: “We certainly need to have a conversation about and a commitment to what we used to call civic virtue — respect, tolerance, humility, honesty, empathy and the rest.” 


 

 

April 8, 2019 

 

Notes from the American Kleptocracy: 

 

Courtesy of Robert Reich: “How much did some corporations benefit from Trump's tax cuts? Well, the tax cuts boosted JPMorgan's profits by $3.7 billion, helping the bank post record profits last year. The company has plowed most of the money -- $55 billion over the past 5 years -- into buying back shares of its own stock, which boosts payouts for executives and wealthy investors. Meanwhile, Trump and the Republicans' $1.9 trillion in tax cuts have exploded the deficit and wages have continued to stagnate for American workers.”

 

 

 

April 7, 2019 

 

Warren

 

All sixteen –- or is it more like twenty –– Democratic candidates would be a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin. The question is: who would be best to run against him. Some astute pundits think a moderate candidate would be best: Don’t scare swing voters who might be vulnerable to Republican propaganda that the Democratic candidate is a dangerous, extreme, radical, left-wing, socialist nut!


Maybe so, but I’m hoping that the candidate who becomes the Democratic nominee is inspiring. It’s almost a necessity, for what this country needs is not just an ordinary honorable and competent president; we need one who could change the national mood, someone who could precipitate a revolution of desires. More than anyone else I can think of, Elizabeth Warren might do so.


 

April 6, 2019 

 

The Race 

 

Kamala Harris sprinted ahead of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden to take the lead in Friday’s Washington Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking. I was happy about that because I like Harris, and I think Sanders and Biden would both do the nation a service by dropping out. 

 

Astonishing Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, held on in 4th position. In a WaPo column yesterday, Jennifer Rubin gave readers a good idea why such a thing could happen, as well as why Stacey Abrams, the black legislator from Georgia who was narrowly defeated in last November’s Georgia gubernatorial race (and would almost certainly have won had not voter suppression taken a toll at the polls) is in the ranking at all. Buttigieg and Abrams are both spectacularly smart, decent, dedicated, sensible, self-disciplined politicians.


 

April 5, 2019 

 

The Psychopathology of William Barr  

 

Why does Attorney General William Barr debase himself by shielding Trump from scrutiny? Trump, of all people. Barr has an authoritarian mind. He wants to be part of an authoritarian structure. He wants it so badly, it matters not how depraved the authority is. Indeed, serving a scoundrel of such eminence may be what Barr requires to achieve inner security, self assurance, and peace.


It’s a weird psychopathology, but a common one, pervading much of the Republican Party. Neuropsychologists would perform a great service to the world if they could unmask its workings. I’d advise them not to start with Barr, however, whose cognitive workings might present them with daunting complexities, but to first investigate Vice President Mike Pence, the archetypal simple-minded case.


 

 

April 4, 2019


Disqualifier


Yesterday the House Ways and Means Committee exercised the committee’s statutory authority by demanding that the Internal Revenue Service deliver to it the last six years tax returns of Trump and of a number of his business entities. Trump’s refusal to expose his tax returns to public scrutiny is a conspicuous marker of his turpitude, evidence of his unfitness to be president. 


Headline: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) released more than a decade’s worth of her personal tax returns Monday afternoon. She joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee


Why have other Democratic candidates stalled on releasing theirs? By failing to do so, they make Trump look less despicable. If you’re running for president, failing to release your tax returns should be a disqualifying factor. No excuses. No exceptions.


 

 

April 3, 2019 

 

Unpredictability 

 

Headline: "Trump takeover of the Republican Party almost complete." A generation ago or less, few would have believed that a sociopath on the order of Trump could be elected president of the United States. Fewer would have believed that if such a thing happened, the Republican Party would care so little for the interests of the nation and the world that they would support such a man and enable him to remain in office. Across the Atlantic, who would have believed that Britain would enter into such destructive and self-destructive behavior as to produce the Brexit fiasco. Unpredictability rules. It’s a stunning fact. We can only hope that unpredictably good things will happen too.


 

April 2, 2019 

 

Biden 

 

Biden isn’t a sexual harasser, but his lately highlighted longterm practice of excessive touchy-feelyness is indicative of a lack of sensitivity, an area of built-in cluelessness, and so must be counted as a significant political deficit. He has too many of them.

 

 

April 1, 2019

 

The Fundraising Quandry

 

It takes a lot of money to make a serious run for the presidency. I read that Trump has over seventy million bucks in his campaign fund. If he’s half as rich as he says he is, he could shove in a hundred million of his own. His billionaire buddies will help. Meanwhile, Democrats have to raise a lot just to run against each other. Excellent candidates like Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris want to get big money out of politics, but have bowed to reality and are reportedly running around the country seeking big money. I understand that Elizabeth Warren is the only one who is eschewing super PACs and relying on small donations. I would like to send six or eight Democratic contenders I like best each $20, but I’m going to hold back until after I’ve seen how the candidates perform in the first debates, scheduled for June 26 and 27th. Democrats will have to have a lot of money left to beat Trump. 

 

 

 

March 31, 2019 

 

An Enduring Image 

 

In some ways my mind is like a file of photographs. From time to time a new one is added. Anytime I want, I can call one up and look at it. One sometimes appears of its own accord. 

 

A new enduring image was added last week: that of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff addressing Republican colleagues who had called for him to resign because of his support of the Mueller Investigation and his efforts to uncover facts about Russian interference in U.S. elections, probable complicity of Americans in such criminal activity, and other threats to U.S. national security. 


“You many think it’s okay,” Schiff said repeatedly, each time reciting incontrovertible perfidious acts on the part of Trump, those associated with him, and others either hostile to or indifferent to the interests of the United States, “but I don’t. I don’t think it’s okay.” The enduring image is not only of Schiff’s soft-spoken, devastating rebuke of his colleagues, but of the obvious discomfort of those at whom it was directed: Any of them who were honorable would have slunk away in shame. None were. None did.


My enduring image is a portrait of Schiff’s grace, courage, and intellectual acuity and of his Republican colleagues, every one of them shot through with rot. 


 

 

March 30, 2019  

 

Democratic Candidates Update 

 

Yesterday’s Washington Post Pundit Power Poll showed that Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old former Rhodes Scholar gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has raced ahead to 4th place in the rankings. Buttigieg is impressive, and more and more people are mastering how to pronounce his name, which isn't exactly an asset. In the first of a series of so-called debates to be televised in June, Buttigieg is likely to turn in a superior performance. Biden and Sanders are still numbers 1 and 2 on the list. I wish they would drop out –– they are too old and each has other significant liabilities as well.


 

 

March 29, 2019 

 

Character and Tax Returns 

 

For Democrats to win the White House next year, there must be no blurring of the sharp moral distinction between the Democratic nominee and Trump. Among the myriad of indicia of Trump’s moral turpitude is his refusal to release his tax returns. His shameful example should not be taken as a license for Democratic presidential aspirants to emulate him. Any of them who equivocates about releasing tax returns or has not released them by the first debates in June should withdraw from the race. Politicians are not entitled to their privacy if they want to be president. 


I’ve read that the only Democratic candidate who has released tax returns so far is Kirsten Gillibrand. She may be a stronger candidate than I had thought. No excuses for failing to release your tax returns, candidates. Make them public or drop out.

 

 

 

March 28, 2019 

 

Headline: “Trump demands that Schiff {Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee} resign from Congress.”

 

In a properly run dictatorship thugs would have dragged Schiff away long ago.  


 

March 27, 2019 

 

Buttigieg

 

Last evening, I watched Chris Hayes interview Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and aspirant for the Democratic presidential nomination, and found him to be as impressive as I’d been led to believe he would be. He'll likely elevate the level of discourse in the candidate debates. He’s gay, which presents a political hurdle to overcome, as does his lack of experience and what might be called excessive youth. He’s only 37, and what's worse, he looks about 27, which is, thankfully, a problem he’ll surmount in the years ahead, and we can hope that intolerance of gays will continue to decline. It’s uplifting to see young politicians as honorable, astute, and capable at Pete Buttigieg coming to the scene.

 

 

 

March 26, 2019 

 

The Communications Challenge 

 

The case for voting Trump out of office in 2020 and replacing him with a highly qualified honorable and competent Democrat is overwhelming. For a good summary of it, see Jennifer Rubin’s March 25th Washington Post columns. The big challenge for Democrats will be to get their case across to the public in the face of relentless propagandizing by Republicans and their media allies, who we can expect to endlessly express faux righteous outrage at the detestable campaign Democrats have waged to undermine a Constitutionally elected president who is dedicated to making America great again, even going so far as to conduct a high-profile investigation of the president pursuant to their fake claim that they could prove “collusion,” and even though their investigation has been exposed as a total fraud, continuing to conduct their own multiple phony Congressional investigations in a desperate effort to distract the public from thinking about the fantastically great job President Trump has been doing in creating a booming economy, protecting our borders from terrorist gangs, destroying ISIS, and defusing the Obama-caused nuclear standoff with North Korea.


It’s too soon to tell whether truth will win out.


 

 

 

March 25, 2019


The Contenders


Here is how last Friday’s Washington Post Pundit Power Poll ranked candidates in the race to secure the Democratic presidential nomination:


Biden 

Harris

Sanders

O’Rourke

Booker 

Klobuchar 

Warren

Buttigieg

Hickenlooper

Bennett


I’ve ruled out Biden and Sanders for age and other reasons, O’Rourke for inexperience and lack of self-discipline and rigor in his thinking, Buttigieg for inexperience, Hickenlooper primarily for lack of gravitas, and Bennett, at least temporarily, because of lack of clarity as to his positions. I downgraded Klobuchar because of her recently disclosed sub-optimum behavior as a prosecutor and in managing her staff. I’ve upgraded Harris because she has recently exhibited political acumen and articulated several sound and imaginative policy positions. The result is my own power poll ranking:


Harris 

Warren 

Booker

Klobuchar


My preferences may shift more than once in the months ahead.

 

 

 

March 24, 2019 

 

Smiles and Body Language


One of my mother’s favorite observations was, “They say it was a smile that put Roosevelt in the White House.” That may have been an exaggeration, but there’s some truth to it. Amy Klobuchar and some other presidential candidates have nice smiles. Candidates with forced smiles, tight-lipped smiles, reflex smiles, and flashing smiles aren’t to be trusted. 


Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks related an interesting anecdote the other day. Several people were asked to judge Michael Cohen’s latest statements after reading them. They all doubted his credibility. After watching a video of the same testimony, they all found him credible. Body language made the difference. There’s a good chance that it will make the difference in the candidates’s debates. 



March 23, 2019


Skipped my blog today. I'm excuseless.

 

 

March 22, 2019


Campaign Note


Headline: As a prosecutor, Amy Klobuchar declined to go after police involved in fatal encounters with black men


The above isn’t Fox News propaganda, but the headline to a responsible report in the Washington Post, which, along with reports of Klobachar’s ill-treatment of staff members, puts a damper on my enthusiasm for her. In 2016 Hillary was kept on the defensive during her campaign because of missteps such as her handling of email and her highly paid speeches at Goldman Sachs gatherings. 


At least a dozen highly capable people are running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Ones who will have to be constantly defending themselves against reasonable serious criticism should step aside. Democrats should choose as their nominee someone with unquestioned competence, integrity, and humanity. 


 

 

March 21, 2019 

 

Campaign Websites –- Harris and Warren 

 

Kamala Harris’s website, besides showing close-up pictures of her –– she’s glamorous-looking, and that probably counts for not nothing –– informs us that she is tough, principled, and fearless, and that she works for the people and always has.  I’m willing to believe it, but I think candidates’s websites should set forth policy positions. They should lay out the progressive, pragmatic, and fiscally responsible policies they will press for as president.  I’m impressed by Harris, but i’m more impressed by Warren, who as the ever astute Jennifer Rubin puts it, is “brimming with solutions to just about every problem you can imagine.”

 

 

 

March 20, 2019

 

Klobuchar and Warren


Klobuchar’s website abounds with generalities, yet as a senator and in interviews she has displayed a high level of competence, and she has staked out sound policy positions across the board. I like Klobachar and Warren best among the contenders.  Klobachar may have a political advantage in being from Minnesota –– she’s an elite, but not a coastal elite. Warren’s Oklahoma origins and family background may be somewhat helpful to her. 

 

 

 

March 19, 2019 

 

Getting It Right –– The Antipode of Trump 

 

Michael Moore is a national treasure. I’m always invigorated by his postings on Facebook. Last night’s is an example. Along with a striking picture of Jacinda Adern, he noted:  “What a true world leader looks like. The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, put on a hijab, said ‘They are us’, announced the gun laws were going to change, and called out white supremacists, haters, and Donald Trump. She’s 38. SHE.”

 

 

 

March 18, 2019 

 

Campaign Websites –- Elizabeth Warren


For the rest of the month I’m taking a look at websites of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. I’m starting today with Elizabeth Warren. 

 

One of the worst problems in our society is the growth of inequality and the anti-democratic and dehumanizing effects of extreme wealth and the corrupting power that accompanies it. The 400 richest Americans — or the top 0.00025 percent of the population — now own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. Warren’s proposals would begin to address this outrage, attempting to provide some measure of economic security and opportunity for all, invigorate our society, and arrest the appalling trend toward gilded decadence. Her plans include an ultra-millionaire tax on America’s 75,000 richest families to produce trillions that can be used to build an economy that works for everyone, including universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All, and allow us to make a historic investments in housing that would bring down rents by 10% across America and create 1.5 million new jobs. Wrenchingly difficult to attain politically but pragmatically doable.  


Bold sweeping initiatives like this is the way to go, but it’s critical that they make sound economic sense and that they can be practicably implemented. I’m confident that Warren understands that. What a tonic a Warren presidency would be for America. 

 

 

 

March 17, 2019 

 

Democratic Candidates 

 

Like a lot of people, I haven’t decided which one to back. Some promising youngish candidates –– Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Andrew Yang –– strike me as lacking sufficient experience, and in O’Rourke’s case, maturity.  Biden and Sanders strike me as too old and in each case burdened with other problems. Of the two with experience as governors, Jay Inslee strikes me as too focused on a single issue (climate change) and John Hickenlooper as too unfocused generally. Senator Cory Booker is impressive, though vague on policy positions, as far as I have observed.  Of the four women senators running, I rule out Kirsten Gillibrand because she’s shown herself to be disturbingly opportunistic. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar have impressive strengths and, in each case, political vulnerabilities. 


Every one of these people would be a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin. It will be intensely interesting to see which one, if any, emerges as the strongest candidate.

 
 
 

 

March 16, 2019 

 

How a Thug Thinks 

 

Trump wants to remain in office indefinitely. He knows that if he were reduced to being an ordinary citizen, he’d be subject to prosecution and probable conviction and incarceration. Unlike some thugs, he thinks out loud: 

 

"I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”


Most Republicans support him.

 

 

 

March 10, 2019


I’m traveling this week and am suspending this blog until Saturday March 16th.

 

 

 

March 9, 2019

 

Biden 

 

Apparently Joe Biden is about to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s already leading the Washington Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking. Biden has the most impressive experience of any of the candidates, but I wish he’d drop out. He’s significantly older than Trump. For anyone with a strong sense of responsibility (which of course excludes Trump), being president of the United States is one of the most stressful and demanding jobs in the world; it’s not for someone who will be entering his eighties during his first term, and Biden has already endured extraordinary personal stress in his family, which may be the reason he’s shown himself to be ambivalent about running. He is known for gaffes, and it’s likely that he would make some gaffes during the campaign. If he does, it will be attributed by his foes to his advancing age. He sometimes shows poor judgment, for example recently in calling Pence “a decent man.” If Biden doesn’t know that Pence isn’t a decent man, there’s something wrong with him. If he does know, and said it anyway, there’s something wrong with him. If Biden becomes the Democratic nominee, I will strongly support him. He would be an infinitely better president than Trump.


 

 

March 8, 2019 

 

Political Developments 

 

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley have taken themselves out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Just as well. Though Brown was near the top of my list of favorites, the Dems have a deep bench, and Brown and Merkley can do a greater service to the country by protecting their seats in the senate. I wish that instead of entering the presidential race, former governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper had made a comparable decision, staying home to challenge Republican incumbent senator Cory Gardner, who is a Trumpian toady and should be sent packing.



 

March 7, 2019 

 

Knaves and Fools 

 

Congressional Republicans and their media allies are not only knaves in protecting Trump, they are fools, unable to see that their own self-interest would be better served by impeaching him and removing from office. Their short-term opportunistic political benefit in shielding Trump is far outweighed by impairment of their personal stakes in our country, which has been seriously damaged, undermined, and imperiled by Trump’s mendacity, incompetence, corruptness, narcissism, vanity, and meanness.


 

 

 

March 6, 2019 

 

Hurrah for Michael Bloomberg 

 

Many notable politicians are so ego-bound that it’s hard for them to imagine that they shouldn’t run for president even though they could serve their country much better in other ways. Seventy-seven-year-old former NYC mayor and super billionaire MIchael Bloomberg is not among them. Realizing that his chance of becoming the Democratic nominee was very slim and that running as an independent, like his fellow billionaire Howard Schultz, could have the horrifying result of Trump being reelected, Bloomberg plans to back Democrats in key races as he did in last year’s midterm elections. This is bad news for Trump and Trump enablers and good news for our country.

 

 

March 5, 2019

 

House Investigations Relating to Trump

 

Republicans are pointing to wide-ranging investigations by committees of the House of Representatives as evidence that Democrats are waging a political campaign to undermine Trump. It’s not the process of investigations that will undermine Trump, it’s the facts that they will bring to the light of day, stripping away all pretence that Trump is fit to remain in office.

 

 

 

March 4, 2019 

 

The Democratic Presidential Debates 

 

Time hurtles along. The first Democratic Presidential “debate” is only three months away, though some much-talked-about candidates, among them Joe Biden, Senator Sherrod Brown, and Congressman Beto O’Rourke, have yet to announce that they are running. The debates will be held in two sessions with as many as ten candidates at each session, standing at their lecterns, making their pitches. Let's hope most of them drop out before the end of the year.


My favorite to head the ticket is either Senator Amy Klobuchar or Senator Sherrod Brown, but I’m keeping an open mind. One consideration overwhelms all others: Who is most likely to beat Trump?

 

 

 

March 3, 2019

 

Headline: “Republicans rally around Trump as threats mount." 

 

Our political system would be healthiest if we had two strong honorable major parties. Alas, so fast that we could barely register it happening, the Republican Party descended into unplumed moral and intellectual depths. Jennifer Rubin nailed it: “Fidelity to the Constitution, ensuring the nation’s security, and even simple honesty are foreign to this gang. They have become apparatchiks in Trump’s authoritarian scheme.” 


Authoritarian rulers don’t ascend to power single-handedly; they rely on unprincipled, opportunistic, strategically positioned lieutenants to assist them in undermining and eventually destroying democratic institutions.


Our Constitutional system of checks and balances presumes that those who have a duty to check and to balance the president will do so. Occasional peeps and squeaks aside, Republicans have propped Trump up. Their moral depravity is a great tragedy of our times.


 

 

March 2, 2019 

 

What Course Will History Take? 

 

Trump assumed office with only a dim understanding of, and no respect for, our federal system and system of checks and balances. Belatedly he has learned how dangerous it was for him to become president. His hope now is that masses of dogged followers, media allies, corrupt cabinet members, a fawning vice-president, authoritarian-minded judges, and unprincipled Republican members of Congress will protect him from eventual prosecution, universal contempt and disgrace, a prospect that looks increasingly unlikely, but not certain, to be the course history takes.


 

 

March 1, 2019

 

A Call to Duty

 

It becomes ever more obvious that Trump should be impeached, removed from office, and prosecuted. Republicans in Congress have demeaned the G.O.P. and betrayed their country by protecting and enabling him. Given the moral bankruptcy and gross irresponsibility of the Republican Party, it’s critically important for Democrats to gain control of the presidency and the Senate and to retain control of the House in next year’s elections. 


In every state in which a Republican senate seat is vulnerable the strongest possible Democrat should oppose the incumbent Republican. Democrats need neither Colorado governor John Hickenlooper nor Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke to win the 2020 presidential election. Other candidates and prospective candidates for this office are as strong or stronger. Hickenlooper has a patriotic duty to forgo running for president and instead run against Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado, and O’Rourke has a patriotic duty to forgo running for president and instead run against Senator Jon Cornyn in Texas. I will not support either of them for the Democratic presidential nomination, principally because neither of them should be seeking it.


 

 

February 28, 2019 

 

Klobuchar 

 

The weight of the evidence seems to be that presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar has been abusive toward staff members to a degree that casts doubt on whether, despite the cheeriness and equanimity she displays in public, she lacks the temperament to be the best nominee the Democrats can put forward to run against Trump. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens has suggested that Klobuchar should resolve, and promise publicly, to be more considerate in her interactions with people who work for her. This strikes me as a good idea. So few politicians ever admit errors, it would be refreshing for a leading contender do so. In other respects Klobuchar stands out as an exceptionally promising candidate. She would be wise not to barricade herself behind a wall of rationalizations of her behavior. 

 

 

 

February 27, 2019 

 

No to Bernie Sanders as a Presidential Contender

 

There are plenty of highly qualified candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Those who have evidenced significant drawbacks should drop out, the sooner the better. I’ve already suggested that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders should stay out of the race because of their age and other issues. Yesterday I learned that Sanders has equivocated about making his tax returns public. That’s a disqualifying issue. Bernie, if you have reservations about releasing your tax returns, you should withdraw from the race.

 

 

 

February 26, 2019 

 

Tax Policy

 

Inequality has been growing for several decades. It’s well past the obscene level. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt reports that, since 1980, average net income of the bottom 90% has grown only about one-fourth the rate of the GDP growth. For the top 2% to 9%, average income growth has roughly matched the rate of GDP growth. For the top .01% to 1%, average income growth has been about twice the rate of GDP growth. For the top .01%, average income growth has averaged about five times the rate of GDP growth. It was in this environment that Republicans enacted a tax overhaul designed primarily to benefit the rich and especially the superrich. This country needs, not just a “wealth tax” or a 70% marginal rate on incomes over a million dollars per year, but a tax system that’s revenue-neutral or positive and much more progressive across the board.

 

 

February 25, 2019 

 

First Order of Business for the Next President 

 

Democratic presidential contenders have put forth various policy proposals that they intend to implement if they are elected. In her Washington Post column yesterday Jennifer Rubin pointed out that the first order of business for the next president is to “repair the presidency”–– to institute policies and procedures to prevent the kinds of corruption, nepotism, and other affronts to decency and to our Constitutional system that have characterized Trump and his entourage. Rubin lists eleven measures that should be taken for starters. I hope every candidate agrees with her.

 

 

 

February 24, 2019

 

Klobuchar

 

A New York Times article based on interviews with present and former members of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s staff gives the impression that she is too ungentle with people who work for her: she rebukes staff members too sharply and too often and is ferociously demanding. Tough to take, but a lot less tough than being in the Marines, and it’s valuable experience for those subjected to it. One interviewee complained that Klobuchar said, “I’d trade three of you for a bottle of water.” My reaction to this is that if they didn’t laugh instead of feeling humiliated they need desensitivity training.


 

 

February 23, 2019 

 

The Race to Run against Trump. 

 

Yesterday the Washington Post published its weekly “power ranking” of candidates vying to oppose Trump in 2020: Bernie Sanders, who last week announced that he’s running, sprinted into fourth place, just behind Joe Biden, who hasn’t yet said whether he’s gong to run. Among the ten leaders are four women, including one of the two African Americans in the race, and a gay guy, Indianapolis mayor Pete Buttigleg, who may be held back because he’s only 37 and his name is hard to pronounce. (It's “Boot-edge-edge”).


Harris

Klobuchar

Biden

Sanders

Warren

Booker 

Brown 

O’Rourke

Gillibrand

Buttigleg


 

 

February 22, 2019 

 

Polarization

 

By calling Vice-President Pence “vile,” am I displaying the kind of incivility and disrespect that is said to be tearing the country apart? Personal attacks tend to be unhelpful even when warranted, but glossing over shockingly egregious behavior is dangerous. Trump and his enablers are threatening American democracy to the core. Trump is a moral catastrophe of a human being. Pence, who appears to have dedicated his life to fawning on him, is an example of behavioral and spiritual degradation that is vile. Polarization may issues from caprice. In this case it issues but facts.

 

 

February 21, 2019 

 

Bernie Sanders

 

It’s a little spooky how many people have entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders's candidacy in 2016 was exciting. This time it’s not. Like so many politicians, Sanders is unrestrainedly ambitious. He can’t understand that he’s too old; that it’s time for a younger fresher person to head the ticket. 


For anyone who has high moral character –– and I have no doubt that Sanders qualifies in that respect –- being president of the United States is a tremendously demanding job. Sanders has tremendous energy, but I wonder if he could keep from running out of steam during a term lasting into his mid-eighties. A second term would seem out of the question for someone his age in 2024. I’m in general agreement with his progressive agenda, but, as was the case in 2016, it’s not adequately researched. I don’t think he adequately connects the fiscal and tax policy dots. I hope someone who is more pragmatic as well as progressive wins the nomination.

 

 

 

 Editorial Note: The software program for this blog is pretty primitive. When the word count reaches a certain level, it both screws up the format and font size and stops working until I remove a lot of it. Trying to tame it, I've removed and archived all postings prior to Feb. 1, of this year. If I ever have time, I'll clean up the font size and spacing as well.

 

 

 

February 20, 2019 

 

 

Brown 

 

 

Jennifer Rubin, whom I keep citing because she is such an exceptionally astute observer of the political scene, devoted a recent Washington Post column to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who is likely to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Brown has established himself as a pragmatic progressive. He espouses policies that are fiscally responsible, yet would go a long way toward reversing the trend toward the enrichment of the few at the expense of the many that has characterized our society for the past several decades and accelerated since Trump took office. Brown may turn out to be the best choice to lead Democratic ticket.

 

 

 

 

 

February 19, 2019 

 

 

 

Pence 

 

 

 

I call your attention to Roger Cohen’s current online New York Times column reporting on a conference in Europe at which Pence “inflicted on the audience an extraordinary exercise in obsequiousness, arrogance and mawkishness.” It’s worth reading it to appreciate how Pence is not just vile; he’s vile in an particularly repulsive idiosyncratic way. 

 

 

 

February 18, 2019  


 

Democrats: Progressives and Centrists  

 


 

A possible pitfall for Democrats during the months of political jockeying leading up to the Democratic nominating convention is clashes between progressives and centrists that undermine the common effort to depose Trump at the ballot box. Internecine warfare can and must be avoided.

 

 

The progressives are basically right, but it’s critical for them to be meticulous in constructing policy proposals that are impregnable against charges that they are irresponsible, dreamy, and even dangerous. Centrist Democrats will be drawn to progressive proposals that are pragmatic, morally just, fiscally responsible, and clearly laid out and will join their proponents in supporting them. Most independents will be drawn to them as well. If Democrats don’t self-destruct, they can win resoundingly in 2020.  

 


February 17,  2019

 

 Race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

 

  Every Friday the Washington Post releases its power ranking of candidates to run against Trump in the next presidential election. I liken this to a horse race. Some horses tend to be early leaders; others are stretch runners. There’s nothing close to a clear favorite in this one, and it has hardly begun. Old hands at the track know that the lead can change wildly during the course of the race like this. At the three-week mark, Kamala Harris is holding the lead. Amy Kobuchar is running second by a neck. Joe Biden, who hasn’t yet announced that he’s in the race, is nevertheless running third. Elizabeth Warren is edging up along the rail

 

 There are four women among the ten leaders in the race.  I bet that one of them will be on the the Democratic ticket as either the presidential or vice-presidential nominee. 

 

 February 16, 2019  

 

Republican Challenges to Trump 

 

It’s good news that a prominent Republican, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, intends to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination, though Weld says he’ll have to raise a considerable amount of money before undertaking an all-out campaign. Let’s hope other Republicans follow his example or run on an independent ticket, pledging to restore traditional conservative principles –– honesty, decency, competency, fiscal responsibility, and sound judgment –– to the White House.  Whether they think they can win the nomination or the election should have no bearing on their decision. The only question they need to ask is whether they can weaken Trump politically and increase the chance that he’ll lose in the general election. That is a noble goal in itself.

 

February 15, 2019

 

The Democratic Presidential Primary Debates

 

Upwards of 20 Democrats have either entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination or are expected to. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has announced how it will run the primary debates in a way that is fair, democratic, and doesn’t result in a ludicrous numbers of aspirants on the stage at once. There will be two heats –– two nights of debates. Lots will be drawn to determine which night and with which other candidates each candidate will debate. No more than 20 candidates will be allowed to debate; no more than 10 will be on stage at either of the two nights of debating. To make the cut a candidate must rank high enough in polling or have secured at least 65,000 "grass-roots" donations. The first debate will be held this June, sooner than I would have thought likely.

 

 

February 14, 2019

 

Tell the Truth 

 

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler has documented thousands of lies Trump has told since he took office. Trump is a pathological liar. His supporters resort to a time-proven method of dodging the ugly truth that Trump’s habitual lying is indefensible by from time to time catching a Democrat making a misstatement. Kamala Harris, who is one of the leading aspirants for the Democratic nomination, earned “4 Pinocchios” from Kessler by suggesting that, because, on average, tax refunds were down, tax liability had increased for middle class Americans.” This was not case. 

 

Harris had plenty of reasons to attack the Republican tax cut, which was designed primarily to benefit for the rich and especially the super rich, but she carelessly seized on a specious argument. Now we’ll be hearing endlessly from the right-wing media that Harris is a notorious liar and totally untrustworthy.

 

Democratic candidates have a special obligation to be scrupulous about being factually accurate. Our nation’s survival as a democracy is at stake. 

 

 

February 13, 2019  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Limit  

 

By agreeing with Democrats on a compromise that would increase funds for border security but rebuff Trump in his demand for 5.7 billion dollars dedicated to his Wall, Senate Republicans displayed that there is, at last, a limit to how much damage they’re willing to inflict on the country to please the Trump and his deluded and cynical supporters. The result, Jennifer Rubin notes, is that “Trump is left with his cultlike followers, vague threats to 'finish' the wall regardless of Congress, his mindless chants and his sycophantic right-wing media.” It’s a hopeful development, but as long as Trump remains in office, our country remains in peril.

 

 

February 8 - 12, 2019 

 

 

 

 

Traveling 

 

I'm traveling and suspending this blog until Wednesday, Feb. 13th.

 

 

February 7, 2019 

 

The Right Candidate to oppose Trump 

 

 Jennifer Rubin suggests that a good choice would be someone “youngish, knowledgeable, idealistic, empathetic, and high-energy,” to which could be added honorable, all qualities that Trump lacks. In the course of the campaign the contrast would become evident to all but the most deluded and cynical, which there’s reason to hope doesn’t comprise more than 40% of the population.

 

February 6, 2019 

 

he Tragedy of Our Times

 

Headline: “The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between Russia and the United States.”  As Katrina vanden Heuvel observed in a Washington Post column yesterday, it’s an act that initiates a new arms race. Consider Trump’s rationale for this decision, bestowed on the world last fall: “we have more money than anybody else by far. We’ll build it up until [China and Russia] come to their senses.” 

 

That, as I recently read, 88% of Republicans support Trump, is the tragedy of our times.

 

 

February 5, 2019

 

Trump Delivers a Devastating Attack on Himself

 

One of Jennifer Rubin’s columns in the online Washington Post yesterday had the effect of being a devastating attack on Trump. Rubin said very little. Most of the column consisted of a verbatim transcript of remarks Trump made in the course of being interviewed by Margaret Brennan of CBS. Trump’s own words –– a stunning display of appalling ignorance and incoherence –– were more revealing of his gross unfitness to hold office than anything any critic could say against him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 4, 2019 

 

Universal Access to Basic Healthcare

 

Nearly every advanced democracy assures all its citizens access to basic health care.  Everyone in our country should have access to basic health care too. Opponents falsely claim that it would be too expensive.

 

The U.S. spends more on healthcare per capita than any other country. That’s not because people in the U.S. are getting better health care. It’s because our health care system is so inefficient. We would spend less on a well-planned, well-administered universal health care system than we spend under our present system. 

 

Prospective Democratic presidential candidates haven’t been getting that message across. Right-wing attackers have been shrieking that universal access to health care would bankrupt our country. As a result, some proponents of universal access to basic health care have gotten skittish and have been backing away from it. Instead, they should marshal credible and accurate studies and data showing what can be accomplished and what the savings would be and hammer it it in until most people realize that everyone in the U.S. can and should have access to basic healthcare too.

 

February 3, 2019

 

Klobuchar 

 

Senator Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, a former prosecutor, is experienced, smart, compassionate, tough-minded, pragmatic, honorable, competent, and likable. The Washington Post’s perceptive columnist, Jennifer Rubin, has commented on Klobuchar’s “emotional equipoise, a blend of relaxation and concentration, stamina leavened by cheerfulness.”

 

I can think of political drawbacks or personal deficiencies in the case of every one else I’ve seen mentioned, who is running or thought likely to run, but none in the case of Klobuchar. It’s too early to endorse a particular candidate, but there’s a good chance that a year from now I’ll be arguing that Amy Klobuchar should be the Democratic nominee.

 

 

February 2,  2019 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Early Line 

 

Recently and unoriginally, I likened the competition among aspirants for the Democratic presidential nomination to a horse race. I predicted that Kamala Harris would be one of the front runners.  In the same vein, the Washington Post has begun rating people who are have already entered the race or appear likely to do so. The ratings reflect the consensus of Washington Post columnists. They are ranking candidates in order of strength, by which I think they mean likelihood to defeat Trump. Leading the field out of the gate are Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrold Brown, and Beto O’Rourke in that order.  Howard Schultz, running as an independent and who should have been scratched, is running 11th. Keep your eye on Amy Klobuchar, in 7th and moving up on the outside.

 

February 1, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

What Shultz Thinks 

 

Howard Schultz thinks that if his personal platform is conservative enough, he’ll get a huge number of Republican votes because Republicans know in their hearts that he would be a much better president than Trump; that he’ll get practically every independent vote because he is a quintessential independent and is running on an independent ticket; and that he’ll get a lot of Democrats votes because he’s basically a liberal, has been "a life-long Democrat," and because, as is well known, liberals like lattés.

 

Schutz is deluded. Most Republicans will dislike him for fracturing the Republican party by opposing Trump. Anti-Trump voters –– nearly all Democrats and most Independents –– will see him as a catalyst that would cause the horror of Trump’s reelection. Third party candidates don’t win presidential elections. Schultz has demonstrated that he’s politically naive. He is not going to be the exception. He’s an example of a man consummed by vanity.