Category Archives: Politics

Groundhog Daze

The title of today’s post is derived from waking up every morning to some unprecedented statement or action by Donald Trump which, in a different environment, would disqualify any other candidate for president of the United States.  I call it the “All You Need to Know” syndrome.  This morning there are more examples to add to the list.

Last night, at what the Washington Post called a “historic” event, two ex-presidents joined the incumbent at a Radio City Music Hall, star-studded gala that raised a record $26 million dollars in support of Joe Biden’s re-election and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.  There were three takeaways from this event, two of which are being widely reported.

#1.  This morning, Jamie Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee pointed out “every penny is being spent on opening field offices to register new voters and to make sure they show up on election day.” He felt no need to explicitly add, “In contrast to the Republican National Committee…”  This is one case where, by simply reporting facts about the Trump takeover of the RNC and the distribution of “campaign” donations, print and broadcast news is carrying this water for the Biden campaign.

#2. Mark Leibovich, staff writer at The Atlantic, reminded “Morning Joe” viewers that “while Biden was flanked by the two living, two-term, former Democratic presidents, Donald Trump stands alone on the stage.”  In other words, do not hold your breath waiting for a GOP fundraiser featuring Trump and George W. Bush.  Scarborough jumped in and added, neither would you see a former Republican vice-president (including Trump’s own), presidential nominee or vice-presidential nominee, with of course the exception of Sarah Palin.  Leibovich added two more categories to the list, former Speakers of the House John Boehner and Paul Ryan or soon to be former Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  In this game of “Can You Top This,” Scarborough completed the tabulation with Trump’s three secretaries of defense, two secretaries of state, first two chiefs of staff, etc.

The one that everyone missed, which in hindsight may prove to be the most important, was the pro-Palestinian protests outside the event and an interruption of Biden’s and Barack Obama’s comments about the Israel/Gaza conflict.  This “all you need to know” moment required an observer to read between the lines.  It seems Palestinian sympathizers have regularly appeared at almost every Democratic rally or event since the beginning of primary season.  On January 31, Ed Pilkington of The Guardian reported, “This month all of Biden’s big set-piece speeches marking the launch of his re-election campaign have been disrupted by pro-Palestinian protests.”  To be fair, the same did happen at one Nikki Haley rally.  On February 1, Filip Timotija of The Hill led his coverage of a Haley event with the following.  “A small group of protesters interrupted the former governor’s campaign event in Columbia, S.C., with chants of “Free, Free Palestine,” before some of them were escorted out of the event.” 

However, when I Goggled, “pro-Palestinian protests at Trump events,” the search produced more articles about last night’s fundraiser or other confrontations with Biden or his surrogates.  At the bottom of the web page, there was a report attributed to New Hampshire Public Radio about protesters outside a Trump appearance at the University of New Hampshire.  The demonstration was organized by UNH’s Palestinian Solidarity Group which implored both Biden and Trump to end what they believe to be “genocide” of Palestinian civilians.  When asked why she was there, protest organizer Adeena Ahsan, a UNH graduate student told NHPR reporter Sarah Gibson “they weren’t just protesting the current and former presidents’ foreign policy positions. They also wanted to push back on their school’s decision to give Trump a platform.”  She added, “We think it’s insane that we are paying for this, not the city of Durham, not Trump’s campaign up front — our tuition is going towards this.”

There may be a lot of reasons Palestinian supporters do not have the same presence at Trump or GOP rallies as similar Democratic events.  Maybe, they believe that Biden, the current president, can do more for their cause than a mere candidate.  Maybe, they think the Biden administration is more receptive to their concerns about a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  But there is one more big difference, which is all you need to know.

When the protesters interrupted President Biden at last night’s Radio City Music Hall event, he replied, “That’s alright, let them go. … there are too many innocent victims, Israeli and Palestinian.”  Obama used the disruption as a teaching moment about the job of being president.

One of the realities of the presidency is that the world has a lot of joy and beauty, but it also has a lot of tragedy and cruelty,  I think people understandably oftentimes want to feel a certain surety in terms of how those decisions are made. But a president doesn’t have that luxury.

When he was again interrupted, Obama drew the comparison that exemplifies the choice we have this November.

No, no listen. You can’t just talk and not listen. … That’s what the other side does. And it is possible for us to understand that it is possible to have moral clarity and have deeply held beliefs, but still recognize that the world is complicated and it is hard to solve these problems.

We do not have to imagine how Trump would respond to these protesters.  We have his record.  “Can’t you just shoot them?  Just shoot them in the legs or something?” he asked former Defense Secretary Mark Esper on the occasion of Black Lives Matters protests in front of the White House.  In July 2017, in a speech to Long Island law enforcement officials, Trump said, “Please don’t be too nice,” implying he approved of roughing up suspects during arrests.  In August 2020 he considered sending the National Guard to Portland, Oregon to quell protests, stating, “We could fix Portland in, I would say, 45 minutes.”

Why do Palestinian supporters show up at Democratic and not Republican events?  They know they may be removed from the venue or lectured to by a former president.  They also know they will leave the event alive and unharmed.  Would they be as sure of that same outcome at a Trump rally when he is only a candidate?  Do they think a negative outcome will be less likely if he once again controls the departments of defense, homeland security and justice?  That is all they need to remember when they vote this fall.

For what it’s worth.

Let My People Be

Welcome to Part II of National Governors Association Week at Deprogramming101.  In Part I, I shared my respect for the GOP governors and their staffs with whom I worked during my tenure at the association.  There were, of course, exceptions.  I share the following personal experience to provide context for today’s post.

In the mid-1990s, I attended an off-camera working session on proposed national education goals chaired by then NGA chair Carroll Campbell, the Republican governor of South Carolina.  Campbell made this topic the primary focus of his year as leader of the bi-partisan organization.  During the discussion, Republican Mississippi governor Kirk Fordice said he hoped the final version would be consistent with Christian values.  Campbell asked his colleague if a more inclusive approach would be to refer to traditional Judeo-Christian values.  Fordice replied, “If that’s what I meant, that is what I would have said.”  I was reminded of this episode watching an excerpt from Donald Trump’s infomercial for “God Bless America” Bibles.  Having been excluded from this Fordice-inspired grift, I decided it was time for my tribe to get a piece of the action.

The following are excerpts from an infomercial for the “God Save Democracy (GSD)” Haggadah, available at most temple gift stores and on-line booksellers for 60 shekels ($16.32 USD).

Do you wish your Passover seder was more relevant to the issues of the day yet still contained many of the traditional symbols and familiar passages associated with the exodus from Egypt?  Now you can have both.  This year, conduct your Passover celebration using the new “God Save Democracy” Haggadah.  Draw parallels between the Israelites’ deliverance from Pharaoh and our efforts to loosen the grip of an equally enraged, cruel tyrant who opposes all who do not pledge fealty to his every whim, without jettisoning the joy of reading prayers, singing songs and retelling of the story of Moses and the flight from Egypt. 

How does the GSD Haggadah do that?  By meshing the ancient with the modern.  Here are three examples. 

First, the seder plate where each item depicts an aspect of the exodus in years past and the challenges of present day.

  • Celery/Symbolizes how Donald Trump “stalks” women.
  • HORSEradish/Trump’s recommended treatment for Covid if ivermectin is unavailable.
  • Charoset/A reminder of the mishmash that comes out of Trump’s mouth.
  • Egg/In remembrance of days not so long ago when no one called this a human being.
  • Salt Water/Crocodile tears shed by “poor, victim me.”
  • Shankbone/Commemorating Trump’s golf strokes that landed in a penalty zone and miraculously appeared in the middle of a fairway.

Then, of course, there are the Four Questions.

Why is this candidate different from all other candidates?

    • All other candidates accept the outcome of elections.  Why does this candidate accept only elections he wins?
    • All other candidates salute the American flag to demonstrate their allegiance to America?  Why does this candidate salute convicted felons who stormed the U.S. Capitol and beat up policemen?
    • All other candidates promise to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.  Why does this candidate promise to suspend it when it serves his interests?
    • All other candidates understand global alliances are essential to national security.  Why does this candidate prefer alliances with our adversaries instead of our friends?

And finally, even in celebration of the end of the Israelites’ enslavement, we acknowledge the suffering of everyday Egyptians in imposed on them by the actions of an arrogant and stubborn Pharaoh.  So too must we acknowledge the suffering of all Americans under Trump’s policies and practices.  That is why we spill a drop of wine for each of 10 plagues every American faced during his reign.

  • Charlottesville
  • Obstruction of Justice in the Russia Investigation
  • Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett
  • Emoluments Clause Violations
  • Covid Response
  • Voter Suppression
  • Eight Trillion Dollars Added to the National Debt
  • January 6 Insurrection
  • Mishandling Classified Documents
  • The Dobbs Decision

Want an updated holiday experience that brings the hardship and agony under tyrants in days of old and new into your home yet is optimistic  about an eventual victory by the resistance?  Don’t wait.  Order your “God Save Democracy” Haggadah today.

חג שמח
Happy Holiday!

Disclaimer:  All proceeds from the sale of each and every “God Save Democracy” Haggadah go to the Making Attempts at Theocracy Zero Opportunity (MATZO)   PAC.  Think of each contribution as “unleavened dough,” financing the fight to educate those who cannot read or do not understand the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

For what it’s worth.


Wrestling with Bibi

Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion. They hate everything about Israel and they should be ashamed of themselves.

~Donald J. Trump/March 18, 2024

What precipitated Trump’s comments during an interview with his former advisor Sebastian Gorka on the latter’s podcast “America First with Sebastian Gorka?”  March 14, 2024 remarks by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.  Schumer’s offense?  According to the Associated Press:

Schumer, the first Jewish majority leader in the Senate and the highest-ranking Jewish official in the U.S., strongly criticized Netanyahu in a 40-minute speech Thursday morning on the Senate floor. Schumer said the prime minister has put himself in a coalition of far-right extremists and “as a result, he has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.”

This is one more indication the Trump/MAGA version of the GOP is no longer “your father’s Republican Party.”  Even far-right antisemites cannot figure out which side they are on.  In January 2023, the Anti-Defamation League with assistance from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (NORC) conducted a year-long research project to explore the roots of the increase in antisemitic rhetoric and incidents in the United States.  The project included interviews with more than 4,000 random individuals conducted in the fall of 2022.  When presented with the statement, “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America,” 39 percent responded this antisemitic trope was either mostly or somewhat true.  Fourteen months later, Donald Trump is now accusing Jewish-Americans of not being loyal enough.

Chuck Schumer does not hate Israel or Judaism.  In fact, his remarks are consistent with long-standing Jewish tradition going back to biblical times.  One would think, Trump, House Speaker Mike Johnson and their evangelical supporters who claim the Old Testament is the literal word of God (when it is convenient to do so), would be the first to come to Schumer’s defense.  I am, of course, referring to Genesis 32:25-29 in which Jacob seeks God’s blessing despite having deprived his older brother Esau of his birthright.

25 Jacob was left alone. And a figure wrestled with him until the break of dawn.
26 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he wrenched Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained as he wrestled with him.
27 Then he said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he answered, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”
28 Said the other, “What is your name?” He replied, “Jacob.”

29 Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.”

The phrase “you have striven with beings divine” led to this biblical passage being referred to as “Jacob wrestling with God,” the central message being even a supreme being does not expect his believers to follow blindly.  One might say, this is God telling his followers, “We are not a cult.  It is okay to challenge me.  You will not be punished.  And on occasion, as did Jacob, you might even prevail.”

Not only did Jacob go unpunished, God reaffirms the commitment he originally made to Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation.  Why then would anyone believe Schumer’s questioning the policies of a mere mortal such as Bibi Netanyahu signals hatred of his religion or Israel? He is acting in accordance with one of God’s earliest directives.  If there is a compassionate God, I have no doubt he would welcome, maybe even applaud, Schumer’s efforts to question whether an Israeli government led by Bibi Netanyahu is acting in the best interest of his “children,” whether Jewish or Muslim.

The only thing missing in this narrative is Michael Buffer and his catchphrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble!!!”

For what it’s worth.

Political Plagiarism

Merriam-Webster defines “plagiarism” as a transitive verb meaning “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own use (another’s production) without crediting the source.”  During my time as a professor at Miami University, I always made a distinction between “words” and “ideas”.  Two people, with similar observations and experiences, can independently come up with similar ideas.  I often joke with my wife, “They must have seen yesterday’s blog,” when a Post or Times editorial or op-ed makes the same point I covered before they did.  However, I know two people independently reaching the same conclusion is not a crime.

That is why I always focused on the second definition.  I expected any student who wrote about entrepreneurship as “creative destruction” to credit Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter with coining the phrase.  Knowledge is built on the shoulders of those who came before us.  We need not agree with everything they said or did, but we have a sole obligation to recognize their contribution.

We now have a new kind of plagiarism under the second definition, political plagiarism, which President Biden pointed out during his State of the Union Address.

And thanks — and thanks to our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 46,000 new projects have been announced all across your communities.

And, by the way, I noticed some of you who’ve strongly voted against it are there cheering on that money coming in. And I like it. I’m with you. I’m with you.

My congressman Aaron Bean must have been napping at this point because just four days later he issued a press release about a $147 million federal grant to Jacksonville which included the following.

I’m excited to have worked with Congressman Rutherford to help secure over $147 million in direct grant funding to support the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s master plan to transform 14 historic neighborhoods and downtown into the Emerald Trail.

Where did the money come from?  It was one of 143 projects funded through the Reconnecting Communities Program authorized as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021.  Bean was not elected to Congress until November 2022, so we do not know how he would have voted on House Bill 3684.  But we do know how John Rutherford, our congressman before redistricting, voted.  He was one of the 201 (out of 203) House Republicans who voted “NAY.”

Now Bean could argue, “If I’d been there, I might have voted for the bill.”  But unlikely, since taking office, he has followed the GOP house leadership on virtually every bill and resolution. But that is speculation.  Therefore, if ever asked, he can honestly say, “I did not vote against HB 3684.”  You know, just like President Bone Spurs claimed he would have come to the rescue of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, “Even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room (a meeting at the White House) would have done the same.”

But honesty is not only about what we do.  It also takes into account what we do not do, which brings us back to definition #2 of plagiarism.  Let me repeat it.  “Use (another’s production) without crediting the source.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)  As we know, the Biden administration worked tirelessly with both Republicans as well as members of their own party to “produce” a filibuster-proof bill that would eventually pass 69-30 in the Senate.  [NOTE:  Florida’s two senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio were among the 30 nays.]  What better example of two congressmen committing political plagiarism than Bean and Rutherford taking credit for something that would not have happened if they and their colleagues had their way.

If they do not want this to be an issue in the 2024 election, they can file a motion with Judge Aileen Cannon claiming Article I of the Constitution is too vague to allow citizens to chastise members of Congress for taking credit for things which they opposed.  I’m sure she would hold a hearing on their motion sometime in December.

For what it’s worth.

Briefs or Boxers

Since 1952, beginning with Harry Truman, the president of the United States has authorized security briefings for the nominees of both parties by representatives of the government intelligence community.  This courtesy is intended to create “an even playing field,” particularly on occasions when, as is now the case, one candidate is the incumbent.  I refer to it as a courtesy because the practice is not required by law or by federal courts.

Never in the nation’s history has there been a situation when the potential recipient of these briefings is under indictment on 38 counts related to:

  • willful retention of national defense information,
  • conspiracy to obstruct justice,
  • withholding a document or record
  • corruptly concealing a document or record,
  • concealing a document in a federal investigation, and
  • false statements and representations.

Various Joe Biden advisors and supporters have urged the president to forego this tradition based on Jack Smith’s 44 page indictment which documents Trump’s alleged criminal activity.  Especially following the former president’s hosting of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, they suggest Trump would share the briefing contents with his political allies.  Relax!  Individuals who have participated in preparation of the briefings or conducted them describe the content as no different than that regularly provided to members of Congress.  It is limited to country by country assessments and includes no information related to administration responses, methods or sources.

Trump’s team, of course, argues he is entitled to such briefings (not true under any circumstances) because he has done nothing wrong.  What better time to call his bluff.  Therefore, I suggest the White House send the following letter to the presumptive Republican nominee.

White House Office of Presidential Correspondence - Wikipedia

March 11, 2024

Donald J. Trump
Palm Beach, Florida


Congratulations on your showing in the Super Tuesday primaries.  With Nikki Haley  suspending her campaign, I have no doubt you will be the Republican nominee in 2024.  As much as I would like to honor the 70 year tradition of providing intelligence briefings to an opponent, I have a greater responsibility to honor my oath to defend and protect the Constitution.  Therefore, I have decided not to authorize such briefings while you are under indictment.

There is, however, a solution to this conundrum.  If you are correct that you have done nothing wrong, you have always had an opportunity to prove that in court.  I suggest, therefore, that you ask your lawyers to withdraw all their motions to dismiss the case and encourage Judge Cannon to schedule the trial as soon as possible.  If a jury of your peers finds you innocent of the charges in the indictment, I will authorize intelligence briefing immediately.  I make this recommendation knowing that, if you prevail, it will be to my electoral detriment, reinforcing your claims the indictment was a case of election interference.

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.  I look forward to your response.

File:Joe Biden Signature.svg - Wikipedia

Trump’s choice is clear.  If he prefer BRIEFS he needs to face a panel of his peers, otherwise known as “Jury-BOXERS”.

For what it’s worth.