Category Archives: Politics

On the Beach

On the Beach (1959) - MoriaYou may recognize this picture as the final scene in Stanley Kramer’s 1959 adaptation of Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach.  The book and film describe the aftermath following a nuclear war geographically isolated to the Northern Hemisphere.  Falsely believing the Southern Hemisphere will be spared, the commander of a U.S. nuclear submarine (portrayed by Gregory Peck) heads for Australia, only to learn that, within months, down under residents will also succumb to radiation poisoning.

The banner reading “There is still time…brother,” which appears several times throughout the movie, is erected by the Australian Salvation Army.  The message morphs over the course of the narrative.  At first it is a cry for sanity, urging a halt to the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. In the end, it is a call to residents to make peace with themselves and their deity of choice before they perish.

When I drafted last Saturday’s post about red flag laws, I was unaware of the execution style massacre of five members of a family in Cleveland, Texas.  It became the fifth incident in less than two weeks during which a gunman (yes, all males) shot at and wounded/killed someone who did nothing but make an honest mistake (e.g., getting into the wrong car or ringing the doorbell at the wrong house) or, in the most recent case, asked a neighbor  to curtail firing his rifle at night as the noise kept their infant child from falling asleep.

Which brings me back to On the Beach.  I now realize it is the perfect metaphor for the stockpiling of firearms, especially semi-automatic assault rifles, and the increasing probability that the slightest perceived offense will trigger the next mass shooting.  In this allegory, Texas, after El Paso, Uvalde and Cleveland, is the Northern Hemisphere, a hair trigger away from the apocalypse.  It has not happened yet, but sadly it is just a matter of time.  Teenagers, enjoying a day on South Padre Island, will be playing their music a bit to loud.  A young couple may be a little too affectionate in public.  A dog escapes its leash.  And a random stranger, after having one beer too many, will have ready access to the AR-15 he carries with him wherever he goes.  Within seconds the sand will be strewn with mutilated, unrecognizable bodies.

“Why do we let people carry a weapon of war to the beach,” an eyewitness will ask.  The NRA and gun manufacturers lobby will reply, “If only more good guys had guns, someone would have stopped him.”  Where have I heard that before.  Oh, right, we need to stockpile enough nuclear weapons to kill everyone on earth multiple times to ensure no one will use them.  It is called “mutual assured destruction.”  But all it takes is one error in judgment, miscalculation or system failure to become “assured destruction.”

“But that only happens in Texas,” you say.  Echoing the Australians in On the Beach, you add,  “I don’t live in Texas.  I can survive the fallout as long as it is not generated in my state.”  Not for long.  Assault weapons do not respect state lines.  They do not even respect international borders.  The Mexican foreign ministry estimates over 500,000 firearms, a majority of which are AR-15 style assault weapons, were purchased legally in Texas in 2022 and transported across the border.  They have become the major contributor to the wave of drug cartel violence, centered in Mexican states across the Rio Grande River from Texas

Instead of stemming the personal ownership of these weapons of war, many state legislatures make them easier to purchase and enable their presence in public places.  Politicians who defend the Second Amendment over the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, glorify assault weapons in campaign ads and on Christmas cards.  Is this not the same strategy employed by nuclear powers that parade their warheads and delivery systems through the streets on national holidays?

Nevil Shute has given us a preview of what America will look like if our leaders refuse to act.  And reminds us, “There is still time…brother.”  We should listen.

For what it’s worth.


Political Eugenics

The study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by people presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits.


The Republican Party is not yet engaged in the genetic engineering of individuals who are susceptible to fearmongering, alternative facts or election denial.  Instead, they are focused, for lack of a better word, on political eugenics, defined as “discouraging voting by people presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits.”

Yesterday, Cleta Mitchell, a prominent GOP attorney and fundraiser, updated attendees at the RNC donor retreat in Nashville of the latest experiment in the dark art of voter suppression.  Washington Post reporters Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner described Mitchell’s presentation, labeled “A Level Playing Field,” as “a window into a strategy that seems designed to reduce voter access and turnout.”  Not surprisingly, Mitchell targeted voting on college campuses, a population segment which the Knight Foundation and College Pulse estimates voted for Joe Biden by a margin of 71 to 18 percent.  Predictably, her geographic focus included (drum roll) campus voting in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Her proposed remedy?  Limit on campus voting stations and preregistration, “allowing 17-year-olds to register ahead of their 18th birthdays so they can vote as soon as they are eligible.”

In a fire hose of irony, Mitchell who actively participated in the “big lie” including being on line with Trump during his infamous call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, justified such actions claiming, “Our constitutional republic’s survival is at stake.”  According to audio obtained by the Post, Trump phoned in to the attendees to endorse her message and promised to make changes in student voting if elected in 2024.

Republican controlled state legislatures are not betting on a second coming of Trump.  Idaho has banned student ID cards as a form of voter identification.  New Hampshire requires out-of-state college students to obtain a NH drivers license to vote.  (The ACLU has challenged the requirement claiming the license fee represents a poll tax.) In 2019, Texas has closed early voting sites on college campuses and is considering legislation that would completely eliminate college polling places.  A pending bill in Arizona would not let students use their college dormitory address for voter registration.

Why this visceral response to voting by college students?  Two factors.  First  according to ALL IN, a non-profit focused on civic engagement by younger voters, their has been a significant increase in student registration and voting.  In the 2020 general election, the percentage of student voters climbed to 66 percent, 14 percent more than in 2016. 

Second, those voters chose Biden over Trump by huge margins.  Consider the following which explains why Mitchell is most concerned about states like Arizona, Georgia and Michigan.  In Arizona, Biden’s margin over Trump among youth voters was 126,000 votes in a state Biden won by just 21,000 votes.  Georgia? Biden’s net youth votes (+188,000) contributed to a 7,000 vote statewide victory.  Michigan?  Biden youth vote (+194,000).  Statewide margin (+148,000). [Source: Tufts University Tisch College Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.]

Which brings me back to Mitchell’s concerns about a level playing field.  One explanation might be Democrats have out-organized Republicans on college campuses.  The data suggest just the opposite is true.  There are three national college republican organizations.

  • National Federation of College Republicans (NFCR)
  • College Republican National Committee (CRNC)
  • College Republicans United (CRU)

Additionally, there are 52 state Federations of College Republicans affiliated with one of the three national organizations or operating as independent entities.  Democrats are less structured but outreach tends to be issue oriented: reproductive rights, gun safety, environment.  One could argue campus based GOP clubs are their own worst enemies.  Let me share one example, the Young America’s Foundation.  It provides a speakers bureau for college Republican organizations.  Among its list of available speakers are Stephen Miller, Dana Loesch (NRA), Kellyanne Conway (of alternative facts fame), Oliver North (Iran/Contra) and Trump sycophants Sean Spicer, Ben Shapiro and Fox News host Jesse Watters.  Instead of forcing cancellations of YAF-endorsed speakers, liberals should welcome these folks on college campuses as they are the best messengers to drive more young voters into the Democratic column.

One more thing.  According to its 2021 IRS 990 filing, YAF had total revenue of 28 million dollars of which 26.5 came from contributions and grants. Major donors include the Koch family and the DeVos family. Total expenses were 20.7 million of which 6.6 million were paid in salaries and benefits and 1.8 million in fundraising.   The current YAF president, former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, received compensation in 2021 totaling $799,357.  Is anyone surprised OLDER Americans are the ones making money under the guise of supporting YOUNG Americans?

Based on its reluctance to support child nutrition and day care programs, the long-standing joke has been Republicans believe “life begins at conception and ends at birth.”  This latest effort to eradicate student voters suggests an equally appropriate meme.  “Life begins at conception and ends at college matriculation!”

For what it’s worth.

It’s Not Easy Being…

The last six months have been very good for some Americans…especially if you are anti-Semitic.

I will start with a few examples from my home state of Florida, you know, that place where “tolerance comes to die.” During the Georgia/Florida football game in Jacksonville on October 29, the following was projected on the stadium façade. “Kanye is right about the Jews.” One day earlier, an I-10 overpass was covered with banners. “End Jewish Supremacy in America” “Honk if you know it’s the Jews.”

Not to be outdone, two Florida-based neo-Nazi groups–the Goyim Defense League and NatSoc Florida–chose the Daytona 500 as its venue. They left nothing to the imagination, projecting “Hitler was right” on the outside of the grandstands. Where better to pull this off than the self-proclaimed, “Great American Race,” populated by many individuals who assume “great American race” refers to white Evangelicals.

Of course, the GOP leadership–governors and members of Congress–immediately denounced this fire hose of vile hatred. NOT! Just the opposite. After the GOP’s piped piper posted on Truth Social that “Alvin Bragg received in EXCESS OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS” from George Soros (not true), the snakes lined up in formation. Ohio Senator J.D. Vance tweeted Bragg was “bought by George Soros.” And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis described Donald Trump’s indictment as “a manufactured circus by some Soros-DA.” [NOTE: There is no truth to the rumor Disney Studios is planning a reboot of 101 Dalmatians with DeSantis cast as male villian Cruello Deville.] Not to mention Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and the Eight MAGites, who yesterday starred in a premiere matinee performance of “Bullies on Broadway.”

But that’s not what I came here to talk about. Certainly, I am concerned some deranged zealot might listen to this symphony of dog whistles and bull horns and deface a Jewish Community Center or desecrate a Jewish cemetery. Or worse, emulate Frazier Miller who killed three people outside a Jewish retirement home outside Kansas City in 2014. Or Robert Bowers who murdered 11 members of the Tree of Life Synagogue outside Pittsburgh in 2018 because right-wing media told him George Soros was funding immigrant caravans.

This morning, however, my concern is whether the Jewish community can have an honest discussion, including criticism of policies or actions by Jewish leaders, without adding fuel to the fire. I will start with the most serious case, Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed effort to castrate Israel’s judiciary system. Or his kowtowing to the ultra-Orthodox members of his fragile governing coalition when it comes to settlements on the West Bank or adherence to the Oslo Accords. Does vocal disapproval by Jews of what other Jews say or do feed anti-Semitism? I wonder when I read or hear white supremacists ask, “How can you call me anti-Semitic when some Jews admit their own people are making the world more dangerous?” Again, not true but we know that does not matter. Haters seek refuge in any port in a storm they, themselves, generated.

This next example may seem trivial, but none-the-less significant. While reading yesterday’s Washington Post article how GOP members of the Senate Judiciary opposed a temporary replacement for ailing California Senator Diane Feinstein, I had a visceral reaction. Not directed at Republicans. Instead I wanted to scream, “What is it about old Jewish women that makes them intent on letting the Federalist Society continue to pack the courts with ultra-conservative judges who nullify hard-fought-for rights?” First, it was Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She put longevity on the court ahead of the nation’s best interests. Now Diane Feinstein is holding up confirmation of almost all of President Biden’s judicial nominations.

It is not hard to imagine how different the court might be if Ginsberg had allowed Barack Obama to nominate and a Democratic Senate to confirm her successor. Would Chief Justice Roberts have delivered a less draconian majority opinion in the Dobbs case with support of four moderate and progressive justices? Has Feinstein considered whether the next Republican president would fill vacancies resulting from her absence with more Matthew Kacsmaryks, the Texas district judge who thinks he knows more about women’s health than the FDA and the AMA?

Does this make me anti-Semitic? Misogynist? Agist? All of the above? Or have I become another stereotype, an old Jewish male, sitting on the front porch, constantly annoyed about who is traipsing all over my lawn?

Maybe it is time for the Democratic National Committee to create its own actuarial tables. Not based on factors that determine how long someone will live. But considerations that signal when one of their own risks undermining the very policies and legal precedents they espouse.

For what it’s worth.

Maybe It’s You

I was doing a show at Ft. Polk for the troops in Louisiana a few months ago. Anyway, there are 40,000 men stationed at Ft. Polk. And this really well-dressed, drunk lady yells out, “Every one of them is a bad f***!” You know, after about 39,000 times, wouldn’t you start to go, “Maybe it’s me. I seem to be the only common denominator in this equation.”

Comedian Ron White/You can’t fix stupid

Conservatives are wringing their hands over what they believe is liberal indoctrination of young Americans at the nation’s colleges and universities. This is nothing new. In 2004, George Will, using an American Enterprise Institute survey, wrote:

 [The survey] of 1,000 professors finds that Democrats outnumber Republicans at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. That imbalance, more than double what it was three decades ago, is intensifying because younger professors are more uniformly liberal than the older cohort that is retiring.

This ideological shift is not limited to the humanities and social sciences. A similar review of faculty at Stanford and Berkeley, which included engineering and natural sciences professors, reported nine Democrats for every Republican. Pretty damning evidence that higher education in the United States is populated with left-wing madrasas. Except for a universal truth, there is a difference between correlation and causation.

Will points out this disparity has doubled in the past 30 years. So, just maybe, it is important to take a look at exactly how the conservative movement has changed in that same period.

  • The Republican Party, led by Ronald Reagan, believed the Soviet Union (now Russia) was an “evil empire.” Today, registered GOP voters give Vladimir Putin a higher favorability rating than Joe Biden, despite the former’s invasion of Ukraine and multiple crimes against humanity.
  • The current GOP majority in the House of Representatives rails against the national debt, but conveniently ignores the fact George W. Bush’s and Donald Trump’s tax cuts are the single largest contributor to the spending/revenue imbalance.
  • Conservatives claim the best government is government closest to the people. Yet, they fire locally elected district attorneys, intervene in local criminal investigations, dissolve local school boards, and yesterday, expelled two members of the Tennessee General Assembly for daring to challenge the state’s permissive gun laws.
  • They wrap themselves in the First Amendment, but ban books and punish those who disagree with them.
  • They claim to be for “law and order,” but are silent when the MAGA wing of the Republican Party honors convicted felons who pummeled Capitol police with American flags.
  • The party that once impeached Bill Clinton saying “character matters,” again plays deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to falsifying business records to disguise hush money payments to a porn star and a Playboy model and calls efforts to investigate the alleged perpetrator a “witch hunt.”
  • They declare “individual freedom” to be a sacred except when it comes to a woman’s right to choose and sexual orientation.
  • They promise economic opportunity for all but continue to push two economic theories (supply side and trickle down) which have resulted in an ever growing disparity between the haves and haves not.
  • And just yesterday, we watched as Republicans cried foul over Judge Juan Merchan’s donations to Democratic causes in 2020 (totaling $35) but said nothing about Justice Clarence Thomas’ accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of unreported gifts from a major GOP donor.

Which brings me back to Ron White.  Conservatives sound an awful lot like that well-dressed, drunk woman at his Ft. Polk performance.  They are dissatisfied, not with sexual gratification, but ideological fulfillment.  Imagine if White had said:

There are thousands of college and university faculty out there. And you think every one of them is a socialist or communist who hates America. They come from a lot of different places and different backgrounds. So, maybe it’s you. You are the common denominator in this equation.

An argument can even be made that even the most conservative educational institutions contribute to this liberal movement.  Hillsdale College’s website states this uber conservative Christian liberal arts school challenges its students to “study timeless truths.”  If the administration and faculty believe what they say, they should not be surprised when students compare the brand of conservatism being peddled by the growing MAGA influencers in the Republican Party to that of a previous era and look elsewhere.

There was a college which promoted the principles of curiosity and personal exploration.  New College of Florida.  Once described as the learning ground for “free-thinkers and risk takers,” the school has been emasculated by Governor Ron DeSantis.  After replacing the entire board of trustees with friends and political allies, applications have declined, current students are transferring to liberal arts colleges in other states and alumni donors have pulled back $30 million in pledges.  Among its first actions, the new trustees abolished the Office of Outreach and Inclusion Excellence.

So much for school choice.  Oh, you can go to any college or university you want.  But it is becoming a false choice, much like having the freedom to select any flavor at the local ice cream parlor.  Except every tub is vanilla.

When Donald Trump said, “I love the poorly educated,” he made the point better than I can.  If a generation of young people with college degrees, at institutions where they were taught research skills and critical thinking, grow up to be liberal professors that is not the fault of the professors.  They are responding to the social, political and cultural environment in which they live, using a value-free skill set to observe and come to their own conclusions.

If conservatives want a better ratio of kindred ideologues in higher education, return to true conservative values that might make sense to inquisitive young people.  Until then, stop playing the victim, accept some personal responsibility, stop whining and lead by persuasion, not force and suppression of free thought. You know, the very things you allegedly claim to believe.

For what it’s worth.



The 17-Per-Cent Dissolution

The title of today’s entry is a play on American author Nicholas Meyer’s 1974 novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution:  Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D.  This sequel to the exploits of Sherlock Holmes originally penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle suggests the master detective’s death portrayed in The Final Problem is a cover story for the truth about Holmes’ cocaine addiction.  “Seven-per-cent solution” refers to Holmes preferred ratio of the pure drug to other ingredients.  When Holmes returns to Baker Street three years later, Watson learns he went to Vienna to seek treatment from none other than Sigmund Freud.

Watson refers to Holmes absence as a “hiatus.”  Today’s post is about another type of “hiatus,” the lapse in moral indignation by GOP elected officials and potential 2024 presidential contenders following Donald Trump’s repeated claims of victimhood and threats of violence following his indictment by New York City district attorney Alvin Bragg.  Equally shocking is the handwringing by pundits on the two “liberal” cable news channels.  Joe Scarborough leads the pack.  On Friday, he tweeted:

Whichever cases may come, [Republicans] are always going to defend the failed reality TV host over the rule of law, over the Constitution, over the military, over the intel community…because for some reason they believe we’re a nation of men and not a nation of laws.

No, they defend Trump because of his market share of the GOP electorate.  Of more consequence is the number of voters who joined the “cult” between 2016 and 2020.  Against Hillary Clinton, Trump’s vote total was 62.9 million.  Four years later, that number increased to 74.2 million.  In other words, 17 percent of the total 2020 Trump vote joined his ranks after four years in office, individuals who pulled the red lever due largely, if not exclusively, out of loyalty to the twice-impeached president.  Kevin McCarthy, Lindsay Graham, Ronna McDaniels and now, even Ron DeSantis, understand in an evenly divided America, they cannot afford to lose that 17 percent Trump brings to the party. Every competitive House and Senate race in 2024, much less the presidency, would result in a Democratic landslide.

And who among us doubts Trump is the living, breathy fraternal twin of Charles Schulz’ Lucy Van Pelt.  Except, in this case, his football is the 12 million always-Trump loyalists who will not tolerate any GOP politicians who fails to kneel before the king.  Trump does not even need to threaten to pull the football away from a Republican Party masquerading as Charlie Brown.  They know he has no fealty for their cause. only himself.

The question, therefore, is not why do they defend Trump in his time of legal peril.  The real mystery is why haven’t they learned anything about political survival over the last six years.  Rule #1:  When you screw up, admit it and ask for the electorate’s mercy.  Democrats know that. Bill Clinton’s national health care debacle should have ruined his political career.  Obama admitted a “shellacking” in the 2010 midterms.  Or Obama’s first debate with Mitt Romney after which he conceded, “I was not happy with my performance.”  Neither kept Bill or Barack from four more years in the Oval Office.

The GOP’s problem is they keep drinking the “never apologize” Kool Aid that Trump serves up.  Even when it does not work.  As Scarborough constantly reminds his former Republican colleagues, Trump and the GOP were losers in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022.  What’s more, they do not understand they cannot win back suburban voters as long as they kowtow to whatever portion of that 17 percent who believe Trump gives them permission to display their bigotry and ignorance.

Yesterday, New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu, a potential 2024 Trump challenger, joined the ranks of those who say, “Trump will not be nominee, but if he is, yes, I’ll vote for him.”  Congratulations, Governor.  You just made the most one sided Faustian deal in recorded history.  You traded 14 percent of 2024 Biden conservative voters (most of whom are or were Republicans),  a seven percent decline among independents between 2016 and 2018, and a six percent drop in voters 18-29 years old.  Even a “woke” Florida economics textbook teaches students buy low, sell high.  Sununu is suggesting he can profit by paying 27 percent wholesale for a product for which he will get 17 percent retail.  And this is the guy who claims he will balance the federal budget.

This morning, Mark Leibowitz was interviewed about his latest article in The Atlantic, “Trump’s Republican Rivals Are Missing an Obvious Opportunity.”  He writes:

Now is an ideal moment for Republicans to free themselves from the former president. They’re not exactly taking advantage of it.

He ticked off each of the previous opportunities the GOP had a chance to break with Trump.  Access Hollywood.  Charlottesville.  Two impeachments.  January 6th.  What Leibowitz, like so many other pundits fail to realize, those events are all the other ingredients in the GOP’s opiate which keeps them addicted to Trump. 

It took Freud three years to wean Holmes from a seven percent cocaine solution.  We need to prepare for an even longer time frame for the Republican Party to dissolve its Trump addiction when the concentration of the main ingredient, Trump voters who will abandon the GOP, is 17 percent.  It may eventually happen, but withdrawal could still be a nightmare.

For what it’s worth.