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Fri May 3, 2019, 09:27 PM


Friday Talking Points -- Male Chauvinist Pig Withdraws Bid For Fed Seat

{Program Note for DemocraticUnderground.com readers:
I've been posting this weekly wrapup column for over ten years here at DU, and always run into the same problem as we get closer to each election. The DU forum categories shift around, with strict rules about where to post. I normally post these under "General Discussion" since it's about as generic as you can get, but now there is a new "Democratic Primaries" forum as well. These weekly columns attempt to cover all of the political world, so the main focus is usually not just on the Democratic primary race. As little as 10 percent of any individual column may address the primary races, while the rest is just generic political news of the week. I've been informed by the moderators to post these in "Democratic Primaries" for now, which I am happy to do, but just wanted to warn folks ahead of time that my "Friday Talking Points" columns (begun years ago as an homage to the great DU "Top Ten Conservative Idiots" column series, I should mention) will not exclusively be about the Democratic Primaries. Just to be clear to everyone, up front, to avoid any objections that most of these posts are "off topic."}

Those are strong words to use in a subtitle, as well as so dated as to almost be anachronistic. But we feel this is the perfect phrase to sum up Stephen Moore's announcement that he's withdrawing from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Because apparently Moore has been in a coma since just before Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in a tennis match billed as the "Battle Of The Sexes."

Moore's attitudes on gender fit neatly in to this decades-ago era of rampant misogyny, nowhere more obvious than how he sees the sporting world. He has opined at length on women in sports, dismissing professional women tennis players as "inferior" to men -- who simply do not deserve to be paid anywhere near what they are (if they even should be paid at all). But the sport he gets most worked up about is basketball. Here is an extended rant from Moore from an article he wrote for the National Review back in 2002. It begins, naturally, with a healthy dose of testosterone:

Ah, March, the greatest month of the year. This is the season where I return to bachelorhood, lock myself into the TV room and tell my wife that I'll see her sometime in April. Oh, and by the way, keep those three crying kids out of my hair for the next three weeks.

Charming. Oh, and go fix me a sandwich while you're at it. But he really gets going on the subject of how even peripheral inclusion of women into the male bastion that is (or, according to Moore, should be) basketball is a sign of the impending apocalypse. Or something. Here are his first two manly suggestions for improving the situation:

1. No Women. How outrageous is this? This year they allowed a woman ref a men's NCAA game. Liberals celebrate this breakthrough as a triumph for gender equity. The NCAA has been touting this as example of how progressive they are. I see it as an obscenity. Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women? What's next? Women invited to bachelor parties? Women in combat? (Oh yeah, they've done that already.) Why can't women ref he {sic} women's games and men the men's games.

I can't wait to see the first lady ref have a run in with Bobby Knight.

This speaks to a bigger and more serious social problem in America: the feminization of basketball generally. Turn on ESPN or even the networks these days and you're as likely to see women playing as men. USA Today devotes nearly half its basketball coverage to the gals: Stephen F. Austin beat Mary Washington 65-62. Do I have to shout in {sic} on a mountaintop? I don't care!

No one does. We are being force fed lady hoops. I have never in my life met anyone who actually liked watching women's basketball. I don't even know any women who like women's basketball. There's no such thing (I hope) of {sic} an office pool for the women's NCAA tournament.

And while I'm venting on the subject, here's another travesty: in playground games and rec leagues these days, women now feel free to play with the men -- uninvited in almost every case. Look, I acknowledge that some of the girls these days are half decent. They can shoot the rock. But that's not the point. When I play basketball, I push, I hack, I elbow, I bite, and I swear like a sailor. It can get pretty competitive and, well, vulgar. I think I speak for almost all men when I respectfully tell the ladies that we don't want you anywhere around during these precious moments of male bonding.

There's no joy in dunking over a girl. Never mind that I can't dunk (except on the eight-foot baskets). If I could, I wouldn't celebrate dunking over someone named Tina. I can't see myself staring her down and roaring: "In your face, sucka!!" And the girls are always trying to fast break. Look, I'm 42 years old, if I try to get out on the break, I'm likely to pull a hamstring.

But I digress. Back to the NCAAs {sic}. Here's the rule change I propose: No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything. There is, of course, an exception to this rule. Women are permitted to participate, if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein. The fact that Bonnie knows nothing about basketball is entirely irrelevant.

2. Bonnie Bernstein should wear a halter top. This is a no-brainer, CBS. What in the world are you waiting for? To quote the immortal Wayne of Wayne's World, "If Bonnie were president of the United States, she'd be Babe-raham Lincoln."

Still think "male chauvinist pig" is somehow overstating the case? We don't.

(Oh, and by the way, it was Garth who uttered that line, not Wayne. Get your movie quotes right, dude!)

Think this is a man that should be determining fiscal policy for the entire American economy? Well, to be scrupulously fair, this was an article written a while back, and rampant sexism and misogyny isn't directly related to how Moore sees the economy. So let's check out something he said about the labor force in 2016, only three years ago:

During a debate about minimum wage in 2016, Moore claimed that low labor force participation could be corrected by allowing children to work.

"I'm a radical on this; I'd get rid of a lot of these child labor laws. I want people starting to work at 11, 12," he said during the debate.

No wonder his own kids are crying! Maybe they got their very own character-building start in life by working in sweatshops and linen mills? We shudder to even imagine it, but his own words force us to. This is the man that Donald Trump wanted to be seated on the Federal Reserve, folks. We were all saved from this international embarrassment by a handful of Republican senators (led by Joni Ernst), who torpedoed Moore's nomination this week by essentially saying to Trump: "He'll be confirmed when (male chauvinist) pigs fly...."

But let's shift to more positive news for a moment. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado officially entered the Democratic presidential nomination race this week, bringing the total number of Democratic candidates up to either 20 or 22 candidates, depending on how you count (the difference is whether you count the two major non-politicians running or not). A total of seven senators are now running, which is 15 percent of the total number of Democrats currently in the Senate. But the field may still not be set quite yet, as Montana Governor Steve Bullock appears about to make some sort of announcement of his own. Two other prominent Democrats are still considering a run as well (Stacey Abrams and Bill de Blasio), so we're probably not quite done growing the field yet.

There was one poll out this week which was kind of interesting in a wonky way, because instead of reading the whole list of Democratic candidates, the pollsters just asked it as an open question: "Who do you support for the Democratic nomination?" and didn't prompt respondents with any names. When asked, a whopping 54 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents essentially chose "undecided" by not naming anyone. This figure hasn't changed much since January, when it was 56 percent. Because of the large "undecided" vote, the actual candidates got a lot lower numbers than we've seen in the other polls: Joe Biden got only 13 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders (9 percent), Pete Buttigieg (5 percent), Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren (4 percent), Beto O'Rourke (3 percent), Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker (1 percent), and all the others not even chalking up a single percent.

This could mean people are either (A) still making up their minds which candidate to support, (B) waiting for the debates to make a choice, (C) not paying any attention to the race at all yet, or (D) some combination of the above. But it certainly is something to keep in mind when considering the other polls (all of which prompt the respondent with a list of names). Support for all the candidates isn't running particularly deep this early in the game.

Speaking of individual candidacies, Kamala Harris had a good week, but we'll have more to say about that in a bit. Pete Buttigieg wins the honor of being the first recipient of a sleazy false attack from the right, as it was revealed that two GOP operatives tried to recruit young men to make false sexual assault allegations against Buttigieg. The Daily Beast uncovered this whole sordid story. While Buttigieg is the first to be targeted by lies and innuendo by right-wing whackadoodles, he certainly won't be the last.

And we've got the first Joe Biden gaffe, if it can even be called that (we'll see whether he tries to backtrack from it or not). Biden was in Iowa and made a rather tone-deaf argument about China. Here is what got Biden into hot water:

China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man.... They can't figure out how they're going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. I mean, you know, they're not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They're not competition for us.

China is not an economic competitor to America? Um, well, that may have been true at one point in Joe Biden's personal history, but it certainly sounds pretty out of touch today. As many have pointed out, from both the left and the right. Biden's closest competitor in the polls is Bernie Sanders, who had this reaction: "Since the China trade deal I voted against, America has lost over three million manufacturing jobs. It's wrong to pretend that China isn't one of our major economic competitors. When we are in the White House we will win that competition by fixing our trade policies."

OK, as usual we have far too much to cover and far too little time, so we're just going to cover the rest of the week in lightning-round fashion.

Attorney General William Barr appeared before a Senate committee this week to answer questions, and then refused to appear before a House committee. This only adds to the growing perception that Barr may well go down in history as one of the most partisan and political attorneys general in modern times. He apparently sees his job as nothing short of protecting Trump against all the slings and arrows misfortune throws at him. Several Democratic senators did a fine job of grilling Barr on his lies, past and present, but the House Democrats have been denied calling him a liar to his face in the same room he uttered those lies a few weeks back. Next up may be holding Barr in contempt of Congress, so stay tuned!

In healthcare news, the Trump administration now officially has taken the position that Obamacare should be terminated by the courts in its entirety, which would throw over 20 million people off their health insurance, and take the rest of us back to the days when pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps and all the rest of it are once again allowed. As one Washington Post columnist reminded us:

You've probably forgotten that a little over a month ago, Trump promised that Republicans were about to come up with a health-care plan that would be "spectacular." Then just days later, he decided that they wouldn't actually be doing that, and all that spectacularness would have to wait until after the 2020 election. They can't produce a plan, because they know that one that actually embodies conservative principles would be politically disastrous. So they have to just keep putting it off.

So, once again, the Republicans will be running on destroying all the good things people love about Obamacare, and replacing it with absolutely nothing -- not even any smoke and mirrors. That should be a pretty easy political argument for Democrats to win (see: 2018 midterms). The House, meanwhile, held the first-ever hearing on the concept of "Medicare For All."

Trump tried to make some positive legislative news by appearing to agree with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi over a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, but of course with Trump you can never trust what he says about his support because he usually changes his mind on a whim later on. It's always Infrastructure Week somewhere, in other words.

The Senate failed to overturn Trump's veto of their resolution which attempted to end American involvement with the Saudi war on Yemen, even though a majority of senators voted against Trump.

A federal judge ruled that the second case challenging Trump's acceptance of emoluments from foreign governments can go forward, rejecting Trump's inane argument why it shouldn't.

Federal judges also ruled against the blatant gerrymandering of both Ohio and Michigan, and ordered new maps be drawn up (in Michigan) before the 2020 elections.

There was a power struggle over at the National Rifle Association, between Wayne LaPierre and Oliver North. Ollie lost. But the N.R.A.'s troubles aren't over, because now the House is going to examine all their shifty finances (and ties to Russia, for good measure).

And finally, to end on an amusing note, aging gameshow host Chuck Woolery tried to tweet in support of Trump emerging unscathed from the Mueller Report, but didn't exactly wind up solving the puzzle, when he tweeted the phrase: "NOT QUILTY." Several waggish commenters pointed out that he shouldn't be making such "blanket" statements. Heh.

We have two Honorable Mention awards to hand out before we get to the main award this week. The first is for sheer showmanship, and goes to Steve Cohen, a House member from Tennessee. Since everyone on the committee knew Attorney General Barr wouldn't be showing up for his scheduled hearing, Cohen brought some props just to make an amusing point -- that Barr was nothing short of chicken. Cohen brought a statuette of a chicken, which he placed in front of the empty chair Barr should have been sitting in, and if that weren't enough to drive his point home, he also brought in a bucket of KFC, which he proceeded to eat from. Not exactly subtle, but it certainly got his name in the news (and it was indeed pretty funny).

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also had a pretty good week, on both style and substance. After Barr failed to show up for his House committee hearing, Pelosi minced no words in her reaction, where she flat-out called Barr a liar. Multiple times. In multiple ways. She also pointed out that this was "a crime." It certainly sounds like she's giving the green light to those who want to next hold Barr in contempt of Congress, so this fight is obviously far from over.

On substance, Pelosi's House passed another bill to further define the 2020 Democratic platform, a bill which would force the United States to stay in the Paris climate agreement that Donald Trump wants to exit from. This bill will, of course, go nowhere in the Senate, but it just adds to the list of things Democrats can be expected to do if they win back the White House next year. This bill got almost no media coverage, but it will likely be featured in Democratic ads soon enough. So Pelosi had a pretty good week all around.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to Senator Kamala Harris, who sits on the Senate committee that Barr did show up in front of. Harris is making a centerpiece of her presidential campaign her experience as a prosecutor, and her skills were once again on display during Barr's hearing.

Harris grilled Barr on multiple subjects, and exposed the fact that Barr hadn't bothered to dig into any of the details of Bob Mueller's investigation, and hadn't even read the full report Mueller put out. Harris also revealed the fact that Barr refused to say whether anyone in the White House had asked or suggested that he open any investigation into anyone. Barr tried to split the hair of what "suggested" meant, but in the end he essentially refused to answer the question. Now, there's really only one reason why he couldn't flat-out deny such a thing had ever happened, obviously, so this was a strong argument against Barr being anything more than a total Trump loyalist and toady. His job description does not include "being the president's personal attack dog," of course, and Harris helped expose this more than anyone else during the hearing.

Harris has largely failed so far in capitalizing on her impressive campaign launch, and hasn't really moved the polling in her favor much in the past few months. But the clips of her grilling Barr may help to give her a boost on the campaign trail. Whether they wind up doing so or not, though, Harris was clearly the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

{Congratulate Senator Kamala Harris on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.}

Sadly, we have two Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards to hand out this week. The first goes to the disgraced ex-mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh. You may remember hearing her name in the news about a week ago, when her houses and offices were raided by the F.B.I., which is investigating her for corruption and graft.

This week, she finally bowed to the inevitable and resigned. Here are the basic details:

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) stepped down Thursday, after The Baltimore Sun uncovered earlier this year that she had made hundreds of thousands of dollars by getting companies with business ties to the city to buy her "Healthy Holly" children's book series.

Pugh didn't attend the press conference announcing her resignation. Instead, her attorney Steve Silverman read a statement on her behalf.

. . .

Pugh had been on indefinite leave since April 1, after being hospitalized with pneumonia. The same day, {Maryland Governor Larry} Hogan ordered the state prosecutor's office to open an investigation into Pugh's book sales.

Health giant Kaiser Permanente bought $114,000 worth of the books from 2015 to 2018, according to the Sun. The company also landed a major contract with the city during that time.

Pugh also sold the books to the University of Maryland Medical System, of which she had been a longtime board member.

If Democrats are going to take the high road on blatant grifting while in office to defeat Donald Trump, then they simply cannot condone fellow Democrats with their hands in the cookie jar. Pugh is now the second Baltimore mayor in a row to be forced from office due to scandal. And she's also now the first winner this week of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

Our second MDDOTW winner hails from Alabama, where the state just passed an unbelievably restrictive anti-abortion law, to directly challenge Roe v. Wade. Speaking in opposition to the new law, one Democrat tried to make some sort of point about unwanted children, but missed by a mile with the language that he used. Here is the whole story:

A day after the Alabama House of Representatives passed what could become the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country, state Rep. John Rogers, a Democrat, took to the House floor to voice his support for a woman's right to choose.

But the perplexing words he used have drawn intense pushback from conservatives, who are orchestrating a nationwide push in state houses this legislative session to restrict abortion access and, they hope, force the Supreme Court to reevaluate Roe v. Wade.

Rogers argued Wednesday that "it ought to be a woman's choice" about terminating a pregnancy, an autonomy that would disappear entirely if the majority-Republican Alabama Senate passes the "Human Life Protection Act" -- a bill that would criminalize abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

"I'm not about to be the male tell a woman what to do with her body," he said, repeating a common refrain among abortion-rights advocates. "She has a right to make that decision herself."

Then his argument took a turn.

"Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or kill them later," he said. "You bring them into the world unwanted, unloved, then you send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or you kill them later. But the bottom line is that I think we shouldn't be making this decision."

Missteps like this only give the anti-abortion extremists a gift, because this has already become a rallying cry in conservative circles. Again, Rogers was apparently trying to make a point about unwanted children, but he failed badly in making any kind of political case by the language he chose to use. For doing so, and for handing the opposition a ready-made political bludgeon, John Rogers is our second winner of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week.

{Catherine Pugh is now a private citizen and it is against our policy to give out contact information for such persons. We couldn't find an official contact page for Alabama Representative John Rogers, but you can contact him on his Facebook page, to let him know what you think of his actions.}

Volume 525 (5/3/19)

We have two main themes for the talking points this week: lies, and the economy. And then at the end, just for fun, we've got Katie Couric. Enjoy, and as always, use responsibly!

Liar, liar!

The more Democrats actually use the words "lie," "liar," "lied" (etc.), the more the media will begin to feel comfortable doing so. Hey, it's worth a shot, right?

"As Nancy Pelosi so bluntly put it, the attorney general of the United States has now been proven to have lied to Congress. This is likely why he didn't want to face the same committee he had earlier lied to this week, in fact. And as Pelosi also helpfully pointed out, lying under oath while testifying before Congress is a crime. Lying to Congress under oath is illegal. Barr lied to Congress under oath. At the very least, House Democrats should immediately move to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. Our top law enforcement officer in the country is now a proven liar, which is a pretty sad state of affairs."

Pants on fire!

And then there's the king of lies....

"In Trump's first 100 days in office, Trump, on average, told fewer than five lies per day. In the past seven months, his rate of lying has increased to a whopping 23 lies per day. This covers the period building up to the midterms, and it's only going to get worse as 2020 approaches. On April 25, Trump was interviewed by Sean Hannity for 45 minutes, and told 45 lies. He appeared before reporters for eight minutes the very next day, and told eight lies. Trump spoke before an N.R.A. meeting and lied 24 times during his speech. In a campaign rally on April 27, Trump managed a whopping 61 lies. When you add all of these up, as the Washington Post has been doing all along, Trump has now told over 10,000 lies in less than two and a half years. It took him 601 days to reach 5,000, but only 226 days to surpass 10,000. He must have all his pants made out of asbestos, or something."

Want to reduce suicides?

This is big news, and should instantly become a Democratic talking point.

"A recent scientific study showed that there is a rather easy way to combat the growing problem of suicide in America. Want to see less people killing themselves? Then raise the minimum wage. That's all it takes. The difference in suicide rates between states with higher minimum wages and those who haven't raised them is rather dramatic, in fact. Giving people more money for their hard work has all sorts of positive side effects, and it's now been proven that one of these is to reduce the number of suicides. Democrats want to see a nationwide minimum wage of $15 an hour, and we also want to see the minimum wage linked to economic indexes so that it gradually rises over time. Republicans apparently want to see people work for peanuts and don't care that this causes higher suicide rates, among other things."

Farmers hurting

Another economic argument that Democrats need to be making.

"The Commerce Department just came out with a statement with plenty of bad news in it for farmers. Farmers are getting hit the hardest in Trump's childish trade war with the world, and their income has shown a steep decline over the past few years. Farmers are hurting as a direct result of Trump's bumbling trade policies. Pork prices are down, soybean prices are down, and farmers are now planting crops in the second straight year of uncertainty about foreign markets in general. This has driven farm incomes dramatically down. Many farmers may not survive a second year of Trump's trade war, and a third year would take even more of them down. Trump tried to paper over this economic pain by giving farmers a bailout of $12 billion in taxpayer money, but even this free money hasn't stanched the bleeding. Since Trump has yet to see a single trade agreement become reality, no one knows when this bleeding is going to stop. Why do Trump and the Republican Party hate farmers so much?"

Gold Star families hit with huge tax hikes

This one is even more cruel than the last one.

"Trump has been bragging about the supposed wonderfulness of his signature tax cuts ever since Paul Ryan jammed them through Congress. But they certainly haven't been wonderful for Gold Star families, many of whom are getting hit with enormous tax hikes on their survivor benefits. They're having to pay thousands more in taxes just because the Trump tax cut changed one rule. It's almost like they were specifically targeted or something. Now, that would be a disgusting and disgraceful thing to do, but given Trump's own animosity towards Gold Star families, you have to wonder whether this isn't so much a bug of the Trump tax cuts as a feature."

No wonder people still think the system is rigged!

Obviously, the public is starting to see through all the lies and chicanery.

"All of this economic hardship the Trump administration has been causing is likely one big reason why the American public is still looking for authentic populism and turning away from Trump's fake populism. One recent poll showed that sixty percent of the public thinks the system is still rigged for the rich and powerful rather than being fair for all, across the board. Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy, Republican resistance to a minimum wage hike, Trump's war on farmers, and pretty much everything else the GOP does has all led us to the point where six-in-ten Americans think the system is rigged against them in favor of those who already have wealth and power. No wonder Bernie Sanders is doing so well in the Democratic polls. People are still looking for an authentic populist champion, rather than Trump's fakery."

Tell us how you really feel, Katie....

This one requires an introduction. Samantha Bee filmed her second "Not The White House Correspondents' Dinner" show, which ran opposite the real W.H.C.D. last weekend. It had many amusing bits, but the funniest was probably the initial video, shot as a spoof of the Alien films. Sigourney Weaver was featured prominently, but Katie Couric (as a spoof version of Newt) got the best line of all, which we had to end today's column with for sheer amusement value:

I'd rather get another televised colonoscopy than cover the 2020 election.

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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If I were to vote in a presidential
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Reply Friday Talking Points -- Male Chauvinist Pig Withdraws Bid For Fed Seat (Original post)
ChrisWeigant May 2019 OP
CaliforniaPeggy May 2019 #1
ChrisWeigant May 2019 #2

Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri May 3, 2019, 09:38 PM

1. A great read, Chris, and thank you! K&R. n/t


If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Pete Buttigieg

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Fri May 3, 2019, 11:20 PM

2. Thanks!


Thanks again for the kind words! (Didn't see your comment on last week's article until today). Glad you enjoyed both of them...

If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:

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