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Fri Jul 19, 2019, 08:51 PM


Friday Talking Points -- GOP Puts The Dog Whistles Away

{Program Note for DemocraticUnderground.com readers:
This is a weekly roundup column of what is going on in the political world. For the duration of the 2020 campaign, I've been instructed to post it under the "Democratic Primaries" category rather than the "General Discussion" category, whenever the primary race is discussed. This discussion may be a large part of the column, or a very small part. Just wanted to clarify this up front, to avoid any objections that most of the post is "off topic."}

Obviously, Donald Trump dominated the news this week, by going full-on racist. The Republican Party's reliance on "dog whistles" on racial issues is now no longer necessary, since the leader of the party has given everyone a green light to just go right ahead and publicly scream racist invective as loudly as possible. That was such a big story that it swamped all the other political news.

We're going to address the new love both Trump and the Republican Party have for blatant racism in the talking points this week, in an extended screed on exactly where Trump is leading his party and the country. We felt such a disgusting turn of events deserved being addressed in longer fashion than just a few paragraphs. But before we get to that, though, we've got the other news of the week to cover and some awards to hand out.

It's actually been two weeks since we last wrote one of these columns, as we were away at Netroots Nation last week. While there, we were amused to see Donald Trump being forced to give up his plans for adding a citizenship question to the Census, while ranting and raving about Democrats and trying to spin his backing down as some sort of political victory. Good times!

Also last week, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta was forced to resign, and Trump humiliated him by forcing him to sheepishly stand there during Trump's announcement of his resignation. Acosta, of course, was instrumental in letting Jeffery Epstein off the hook for child molestation and human trafficking, so he had to go. One wonders why this didn't happen a long time ago, in fact, but that's par for the Trump administration's course. Today it was announced one of the witnesses in the Bob Mueller probe was also arrested for child pornography -- and not for the first time. Because as Trump told us, he'd surround himself with "nothing but the best people."

Trump's idiocy was on full display today as well, when he attempted to hold a ceremony with a Nobel Peace Prize winner without putting his foot in his mouth (spoiler alert: he failed). Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi woman who was raped and tortured by the Islamic State, tried to talk to Trump as if he was an intelligent human being, but Trump showed her the futility of such an approach. Trump was unclear on why she had won her Nobel, since he obviously slept through that briefing. Murad tried to get Trump interested in the plight of her people, telling him: "If I cannot go to my home and live in a safe place and get my dignity back, this is not about ISIS. It's about I'm in danger. My people cannot go back." After informing Trump that she never wanted to be a refugee, but that the Islamic State had murdered her mother and six brothers, Trump -- incredibly -- asked her: "Where are they now?"

Got that? This Nobel Peace Prize winner just told Trump her entire family had been slaughtered, and Trump wasn't even paying attention. She responded incredulously: "They killed them. They are in the mass grave in Sinjar, and I'm still fighting just to live in safety."

Vice President Mike Pence also showed an astounding lack of empathy recently, as he travelled down to one of the border stations where people are being caged like animals. Afterwards, he praised the great job the Border Patrol was doing and refused to admit that he had just witnessed his own administration's inhumanity. This sparked a Twitter hashtag that was entirely appropriate: #FakeChristian.

House Democrats passed a historic piece of legislation this week, which would not only raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour -- something activists have been fighting for over the past decade or so -- but would also build in an automatic cost-of-living adjustment so that the entire political headache of raising the minimum wage would never again be held up by congressional inaction. Look for this to be a big campaign issue for all Democrats heading into 2020.

CNN held a draw (three draws, actually) last night to determine the next debate lineup, in case you missed their breathless live coverage of the event. They divided the field up into: four frontrunners, six second-tier candidates, and then the ten others. Each division got its own random draw, which produced a much more balanced arrangement than the first debates. Here are the lineups for both nights:

July 30
Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson.

July 31
Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, and Andrew Yang.

This sets up two very interesting dynamics, as on the first night Bernie Sanders will take on Elizabeth Warren, which is a matchup we had hoped to see in the first round of debates. Sanders and Warren are essentially competing for the same slice of voters, as each would dearly like to be the one progressive candidate left standing who takes on Joe Biden directly. Their agendas are similar and their policy prescriptions almost identical in many respects. So it will be interesting to see each make their case, and be able to compare their debate styles next to one another.

The second interesting head-to-head matchup will be a repeat of Kamala Harris versus Joe Biden. Biden is spoiling for a rematch here, as Harris obviously got the better of him last time around. So both nights should be fascinating to watch. CNN has said it is going to be a lot stricter on who is allowed to speak, after NBC just let anyone jump in at any time, so that should also be interesting to watch. Which candidates will keep to the rules, and which will attempt to ignore them?

These may also be the last debates for roughly half of the Democratic field, since the bar for entry into the third debate is set a lot higher. In fact, this may be the last time we'll see many of these candidates altogether, as many of the low-polling candidates may have to exit the race before the third debate even happens.

OK, before we move along to the awards, we have one story that we never thought we'd hear to share with everyone. Rush Limbaugh just committed the granddaddy of all Washington gaffes (where someone accidentally admits the truth).

Remember when Republicans couldn't shut up about the deficit? It happens like clockwork, every single time a Democrat is in the White House. Garments are rent, tears are spilled, as fiscal conservatives warn us all of impending doom. But Rush just proved what a gigantic con-job this has always been. Answering a caller who suggested that it'd be better for Republicans to dump Trump and get a young fiscal conservative in the White House in 2020 in order to tame the deficit and shrink the national debt, Limbaugh just flat-out gave the game away:

Nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore. All this talk about concern for the deficit and the budget has been bogus for as long as it's been around.... How many years have people tried to scare everybody about the deficit? The years, how many decades of politicians tried to scare us about deficit the national debt, the deficit, any number of things. And yet, here we're still here and the great jaws of the deficit have not bitten off our heads and chewed them up and spit them out.

Democrats everywhere should really save this clip to play to all the doomsayers when the next Democratic president takes the helm, because just like the sun rising in the east, that will be the precise moment when all the Republican sound and fury over the deficit begins anew.

Donald Trump certainly has one skill that aids Democrats, and that is to absolutely unify the Democratic Party in opposition to all things Trump. What had been a growing intraparty rift between "the Squad" of four freshmen congresswomen and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was instantly healed, once Trump personally attacked them in such a public and racist fashion. The Democratic ranks immediately closed after this attack from outside the gates. Trump failed to drive a wedge between them, instead he spurred them to stand shoulder to shoulder against him -- which Democrats should be thankful for.

Pelosi moved quickly to pass a House resolution condemning the president's racism, which passed largely on party lines (a scant few Republicans -- those who still have a shred of self-respect -- voted with the Democrats to condemn Trump). For acting so swiftly, Pelosi deserves at least an Honorable Mention.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week goes to Representative Elijah Cummings, for his visible outrage when questioning the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Cummings chairs the House Oversight Committee, who had called Kevin McAleenan to testify about the horrific situation at the border. Cummings was not in the mood to hear how wonderful a job the Trump administration had been doing, to put it mildly:

The Maryland Democrat got emotional while discussing the crowded centers migrants are being held in. Reading from a court document in which a federal judge found that Homeland Security "did a better job of tracking immigrants' personal property than their children," Cummings repeatedly shut down McAleenan's attempts to speak.

"I'm talking about human beings," Cummings said. "I'm not talking about people that come from, as the president said, shitholes. These are human beings. Human beings. Just trying to live a better life."

. . .

"And therefore, I guess -- you feel like you're doing a great job right?" Cummings asked.

McAleenan responded his department was "doing our level best," before being cut off again.

"What does that mean? What does that mean? When a child is sitting in their own feces, can't take a shower?" Cummings said, his voice shaking. "Come on man. What's that about? None of us would have our children in that position."

"They are human beings," he said, beginning to raise his voice. He added that he didn't think Democrats' complaints were being taken seriously. "I get tired of folks saying, 'Oh they're just beating up on the Border Patrol.' 'Oh, they're just beating up on Homeland Security.' All I'm saying is, I want to concentrate on these children, and I want to make sure that they're OK. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It's not the deed you do to a child. It's the memory. It's the memory.

"We are the United States of America! We are the greatest country in the world," he said. "Come on. We're better than that. And I don't want us to lose sight of that. How do you say to a 2-year-old... 'We can't find your mother, but we can find her keys?'"

Cummings did a stellar job of voicing the outrage and frustration millions of Americans have been feeling after seeing photos and videos of human beings caged up in conditions that (as one other Democrat on the committee put it) "would be illegal to keep dogs in."

For his righteous questioning and his heartfelt disgust, Elijah Cummings more than qualified for this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Bravo, Congressman, and thank you for saying what needed to be said.

{Congratulate Representative Elijah Cummings on his House contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.}

Before we get to the main award, we have (Dis-)Honorable Mentions to hand out to six Democratic House members: Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Ben McAdams of Utah, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico. All six voted against the $15 minimum wage bill passed by the House this week, and they should all be ashamed of themselves for doing so.

But our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week is none other than Joe Biden. Biden rolled out his own plan to improve Obamacare this week, which was far more modest than the Medicare For All plan that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support. That in and of itself isn't all that disappointing, since Biden certainly isn't alone in his position that we should just add a public option to Obamacare rather than going whole-hog single-payer.

But what earns him this week's MDDOTW is how he's selling his idea. Or, more to the point, how he's badmouthing Medicare For All. There's no other way to put it -- Biden is resorting to the same fearmongering tactics that Republicans used against Obamacare in the first place. He's trying to scare seniors into believing something that just is not true, which is exactly what Sarah Palin and all the rest of the GOP detractors did with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Biden is insinuating that Bernie's Medicare For All plan would first completely do away with Obamacare in its entirety, and then years down the road would create a new health insurance system. In the meantime, Biden warns, everyone would be thrown off Medicare and lose their insurance and probably die in the streets.

This is not an exaggeration. This is exactly what Biden said, in the event where he unveiled his plan:

Then Biden began to make the case against Medicare for All. It rested largely on trying to scare old people, a tactic Republicans frequently use to whip up anxiety about any Democratic plan to reform the health care system.

"Medicare goes away as you know it. All the Medicare you have is gone," Biden said as he leaned down toward moderator Kathie Obradovich from the Des Moines Register for effect. "The transition of dropping 300 million people on a new plan -- totally new -- is, I think, kind of a little risky at this point."

. . .

Perhaps worse still was Biden's suggestion that sick people could be hurt during the four-year transition from the current health coverage system to a new Medicare for All program.

Biden asked members of the audience to raise their hands if they'd ever lost a loved one to a terminal illness. "Every second counts. It's not about a year, it's about the day, the week, the month, the next six months," he said. "The truth of the matter is, it's likely to be a bumpy ride getting to where we're going."

This is unconscionable. Joe Biden knows full well exactly how the Republicans demonized Obamacare before (and long after) it was passed into law. And now he is using their playbook to falsely attack fellow Democrats.

There's a case to be made against Medicare For All, and for merely adding a public option to Obamacare. But Biden didn't make that case, he just flat-out lied. Bernie's Medicare For All plan would actually improve Medicare coverage, making it cheaper and better (such as adding dental and vision coverage). It would not just take everyone's Medicare away in the interim. To suggest it would is nothing short of fearmongering. During the transition period, nobody would suddenly find themselves uninsured and in danger of dying from not getting treatment. That is just false, and it is a scurrilous thing to say.

Joe Biden may not get called on the carpet for these statements in the next debate, as both Warren and Sanders will be debating on a different night than Biden and Kamala Harris. But he deserves to be called out, so perhaps one of the other candidates will do so. For now, we're calling him out with this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

We can all have a rational debate about whether the public option or Medicare For All is the best way forward, and we can respectfully disagree with each other. But it's got to be an honest debate. Let's leave the scaremongering to the Republicans, Joe, whaddya say?

{Joe Biden is a private citizen, and it is our standing policy not to link to candidates' web pages, so you'll have to search for his contact information yourself if you'd like to let him know what you think of his actions.}

Volume 534 (7/19/19)

As promised, we have a special version of the talking points this week. Donald Trump has now led the Republican Party into a dismal and disgusting swamp of racial hatred. Or, perhaps more accurately, he revealed that they've actually been living there for a while, now.

This was the week when the dog whistles were put away because they were no longer needed, to put it another way. This was the week when even the mainstream media stopped mincing words and started calling the president a racist. For good reason. So we're going to address this development in full, rather than attempting to break it up into soundbites. Next week we'll (hopefully) be able to return to talking-points-as-usual, but for now we've got a few things to get off our chest.

The Week The GOP Dog Whistles Were Put Away

This week, the Republican Party put away their "dog whistles" and officially became the party of full-on racism. There's just no other way to put it, at this point. Donald Trump, never one for subtlety, has forced the so-called "party of Lincoln" to admit in public that there simply is no red line on racism that they will now balk at crossing. Instead, they are reduced to complaining that "racism" is such an ugly word that it should never, ever be used about them -- no matter how strong the evidence is that they are truly racist.

Donald Trump, of course, is an idiot. That pretty much goes without saying. The tirade that began the week was merely the most recent evidence of his idiocy. In case anyone's forgotten, Trump rose to political prominence by publicly questioning the first black president's birth certificate and complaining about every single thing Barack Obama did or stood for. His complaints were unending, in fact. Trump badmouthed America and the president every chance he could. And now, in a moment of supreme cluelessness, he has decided to berate some Democratic politicians for doing exactly the same thing he spent eight years doing. Irony is dead, in other words.

Trump's idiocy didn't end there, though. He told four congresswomen to "go back" to where they came from, resurrecting a racist golden oldie. This made little sense, since three out of four of the congresswomen were actually born in the United States. But they aren't white, so of course (to Trump) they must have come from one of those "shithole" countries Trump loves to complain about.

Here is Trump, attempting to defend his remarks:

That's what I say all the time. That's what I said in a tweet which I guess some people think is controversial. A lot of people love it, by the way, a lot of people love it. But if you're not happy in the U.S., if you're complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want, don't come back, that's OK, too. But if you're not happy, you can leave.

It's a shame he didn't take his own advice, back when Barack Obama was president. But of course "love it or leave it" doesn't apply to people like Trump, just those with brown skin.

At the heart of Trump's idiocy is his steadfast belief that hating Donald Trump equates to hating America. This is far from the truth, but Trump sincerely believes that any American who doesn't wholeheartedly support him in everything that he does is simply not worthy of being an American. Especially those with dark skin, naturally.

This is evident in how he speaks of any criticism of himself. It was lost in all the racist frenzy, but here's what Trump had to say about the freedom of speech this week:

See, I don't think that the mainstream media is free speech either because it's so crooked. It's so dishonest. So to me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me, that's very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that's not free speech.

Freedom of speech is to be reserved only for those who write glowingly about Dear Leader Trump, in other words. Just as, to Trump, "loving America" means fully supporting Donald Trump at all times. Anyone who disagrees with him must not love America, obviously. This completely ignores the eight years Trump disagreed with President Barack Obama, of course, as well as Trump's entire presidential campaign, which he spent taking potshots at America every time he opened his mouth. So free speech is OK when he badmouths the president or the country, but when someone else does it to him, then they should "go back" to where they came from (even if they were actually born here). But of course, it couldn't be true that they were born here, since they have brown skin.

No matter how you slice it, Trump comes up racist. This isn't the first time his racism has been on display, of course. He began his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans "rapists." He said racist things about a judge that didn't rule for him (calling him Mexican even though he was born in Indiana). He praised ("very fine people" ) a racist white nationalist rally. He called countries with dark-skinned people "shithole countries." He made racist comments about a Gold Star father and mother who dared to speak out against him at the Democratic National Convention. He wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. His racism even goes back decades further. He and his father (who Trump idiotically once said was born in Germany, which is not true) were successfully sued for being racist landlords in the 1970s. Trump has been a racist for a long time -- it's not (as Anthony Scaramucci just laughingly tried to claim) something that just happened out of the blue this particular week.

What has changed is the Republican Party's tolerance level for such blatant racism. Republicans used to hide behind dog whistles -- coded phrases that could be explained away as somehow being "not racist" while expressing racist ideas to those in the know. Ronald Reagan's "welfare queens" is a good example, but there are plenty of others to choose from (the Willie Horton ad also springs immediately to mind).

But Republicans now feel no reason to hide behind a veneer of plausible deniability. They're now just out there being openly racist. Few Republicans publicly denounced Trump's "go back" comments this week, and it wasn't until a crowd at a Trump rally began chanting "Send her back!" that they began to get worried about how it was all playing in Peoria.

It's not just Trump, either. Duncan Hunter, a GOP representative currently under indictment for corruption, recently sent out a mailer to his constituents that was so Islamophobic that the U.S. Marine Corps sent him a cease-and-desist letter demanding that he stop using the Marine Corps logo in his election materials. Hunter's mailer also misspelled "Israel" (as "Isreal" ), proving that Trump isn't the only Republican who hasn't yet figured out how to use a spell-checker.

Mitch McConnell also joined in the fun, approving of Trump's racism with the statement: "I think the president is on to something," as if it were some kind of brilliant political tactic. Lindsey Graham also chimed in, with some advice for Trump: "Don't get personal. Don't take the bait." In the same interview Graham called the four congresswomen "a bunch of communists" and echoed Trump's "they hate America" line. Irony is not just dead, it is a rotting corpse.

Mike Kelly, a House member from Pennsylvania, really took the cluelessness prize though, responding to the outcry over Trump's racism with the jaw-dropping response: "They talk about people of color. I'm a person of color. I'm white. I'm an Anglo-Saxon. People say things all the time, but I don't get offended."

Nancy Pelosi summed up the week by tweeting that what Trump really wants to do is "make America white again." Trump, not even knowing what the word irony means, tried to claim that Pelosi was the one making racist statements (when in fact she was accurately describing his own racist political philosophy).

Donald Trump will forever be known for lowering the bar for what is acceptable behavior not just from a United States president, but from anyone in the public eye. There is no standard of decency that he will not destroy by lowering himself further into the gutter, and dragging his fellow Republicans along for the ride. Republicans are so terrified of Trump's supporters that they refuse to call him out no matter how deserving he is of condemnation. Trump is not the first president we've had who was a stone-cold racist (Andrew Johnson and Woodrow Wilson certainly both qualify), but he's the first to openly embrace racism in such breathtaking fashion since the Civil Rights era. At least Wilson and Johnson could argue that "times were different" back then, but Trump has no such built-in excuse.

Trump's supporters are no better. Chanting "Send her back" is nothing short of white supremacy being mainstreamed in American politics, plain and simple. Things that used to not be acceptable in polite conversation are now being screamed out as loudly as possible. Trump laughably tried to claim that he "wasn't happy" with this chant, but the video plainly showed he did absolutely nothing to try and stop it.

One can only hope that this represents nothing short of the last gasp of racism in America, and that once Trump and his ilk exit the national stage we'll all return to politeness and sanity once again. But this may be wishful thinking. Trump has ripped this scab off, and the festering wound beneath may not heal quite so fast. It will take another Republican in the future to disavow what the party has now become before any return to normalcy even begins to take place. How long that takes is anyone's guess, at this point -- it could be a generation or more before it happens.

For the time being, the Republican Party has doubled down on racism, embracing it fully, right out in the open for everyone to see. There's no need for dog whistles anymore, as Donald Trump gives all the racists a big fat green light to just scream out what they used to be condemned for saying. Trump supporters now consider racism to be OK, since the president himself is quite obviously proud to be a racist. And with over a year to go before the 2020 election, we should all sadly expect this to get a lot worse and a lot more blatant in the meantime. Because there are no GOP dog whistles anymore, just naked racism.

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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Reply Friday Talking Points -- GOP Puts The Dog Whistles Away (Original post)
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saidsimplesimon Jul 19 #1

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Fri Jul 19, 2019, 10:55 PM

1. Welcome Chris


I stop by DK from time to time, not to comment. They have many members who submit excellent essays, imo.

(short form: trump is a racist. if you support him...you are..attach above long form from above)

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