Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018 Democrats: Too Punk?

Stainless Steel Skull Skeleton Head Tongue Ring going for £1.05 from
Fearless anti-Trumper Mr. Bret Stephens complaining that these young Democrats in the ongoing millennium ("Democrats Are Blowing It, Again") are just too goddamned punk:
Michael Kelly, the legendary journalist who died covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003, once wrote that the “animating impulse” of modern liberalism was to “marginalize itself and then enjoy its own company. And to make itself as unattractive to as many as possible.”
“If it were a person,” he added, “it would pierce its tongue.”
(Kelly wrote that in 1996 in his debut column as the liberal-hating editor of even-the-liberal New Republic; Stephens's link is to a Maureen Dowd eulogy in which she manages to mention that she once bought Kelly a couch, but doesn't say if it was a fainting couch.)

He seems to really mean to move beyond concern trolling, too—he's suggesting he really wants Democrats to win in November:

I write all this as someone who is on record hoping Republicans get pummeled in the midterms — a fitting electoral rebuke for their slavish devotion to an unfit president and their casual abandonment of long-held conservative principles. America desperately needs a party that stands for sanity and moderation, not extremism and demagoguery.
On the other hand, what he's linking to there is the expression of his desire that Democrats should take over Congress "as a check on a dangerous and lawless president. I also think Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors for conspiring with Michael Cohen to violate campaign-finance laws and that he ought to be impeached, convicted and removed from office." So I don't know.

Back in July he was complaining that threatening to impeach Trump was too punk, and would only energize the Republican base—that was before Cohen's guilty plea convinced him that Trump had committed an actual crime, because he's a skeptic on the Russia investigation, and apparently unaware of Trump's use of office to attempt to enrich himself and his children, or his long history of tax fraud, as detailed in The New York Times last week, which is almost certainly still going on (when he sold two condos at lowballed prices to Eric Trump in April 2016, he was following Fred Trump's playbook).

Today we learn in the Times that Jared Kushner never pays income tax at all, on a perfectly legal basis, though still obscene: he takes depreciation on the value of buildings he owns for tax writeoffs, even though he hasn't sold any of the buildings and thus hasn't lost any actual money—in contrast, his stock portfolio has hugely appreciated in value (his net worth is $324 million, five times what it was in 2008), but because he hasn't sold any of that he doesn't owe any taxes on it either. We really need to see Trump's tax returns, in any event. His business hasn't been primarily in real estate for a while, but with his hundreds of LLCs and five children and their dozens of LLCs there's plenty of opportunity to shove money around and out of the tax authorities' sights.

But I think it's Stephens who's being overenthusiastic in thinking you can pin an entire presidential impeachment on the matter of Stormy Daniels. Clearly Trump committed a crime there, as has been clear to most of us since long before Mr. Bret Stephens found out about it, but it's basically a campaign finance violation, and I don't think it looks to most Americans like a "high" crime (most Americans believe all campaigns are dirty).

Now he's complaining about all that incivility in the first place, from those ruffians Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder
[American liberalism] pierced its tongue on CNN this week, when Hillary Clinton told Christiane Amanpour that “you cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” And when former Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday, “When they go low, we kick ’em.”
and Kavanaugh
It pierced its tongue last week when New York’s Representative Jerrold Nadler pledged to use a Democratic House majority to open an investigation into Kavanaugh’s alleged perjury and the “whitewash” investigation by the F.B.I. A party that can’t change its mind and won’t change the subject meets the classic definition of a fanatic.
It pierced its tongue last month when Cory Booker and Kamala Harris turned Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing into audition tapes for their presidential bids, complete with “I am Spartacus” histrionics and bald misrepresentations about Kavanaugh’s views on racial profiling and contraception.
It pierced its tongue when Minority Leader Chuck Schumer chose to make Kavanaugh’s confirmation the year’s decisive political test, rather than run a broad referendum on Trump’s inglorious tenure. As I wrote in July, the political strategy was guaranteed to hurt red-state Democrats.
and, of course, Kavanaugh
It pierced its tongue when The New Yorker violated normal journalistic standards by reporting Deborah Ramirez’s uncorroborated allegation against Kavanaugh, and much of the rest of the media gave credence to Julie Swetnick’s lurid one.
Say, something tells me Bret Stephens doesn't like it when we talk about Kavanaugh! Just a gut feeling I have.

I'll tell you right now, I don't think my wonderful Congressman Jerry Nadler is at all wrong to want to pursue a perjury investigation against Kavanaugh, given that he very clearly committed it on several occasions in the Senate hearings; I don't think Booker and Harris misrepresented Kavanaugh's views on racial profiling in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (Kavanaugh suggested he would be against it sometime in the future, but he clearly wasn't against it in the moment) or whether contraception is an abortifacient (Kavanaugh was clearly representing the conservative-Catholic, and false, view that certain contraceptives are abortifacients); I don't think Schumer has made Kavanaugh the central issue (he's been much more engaged in recent days with health care issues); and the red-state Democrat who has most clearly lost standing out of the Kavanaugh mess is certainly Phil Bredesen in the Tennessee governor race, who was afraid to condemn the lying judge; and "The New Yorker ... and much of the rest of the media" aren't really organs under the Democrats' control.

And civility is overrated when one is up against a party that likes to put toddlers in cages, as somebody (Zerlina Maxwell) was saying. And as Lemieux points out, if he really cares about the Democrats winning in November, none of the factors he mentions are especially important, since the map favoring a Democratic  takeover of the House and not of the Senate isn't affected, and since everybody really fucking hates Kavanaugh (except, apparently, for Stephens).

But beyond that, it seems to me that Stephens has been misleading us. He doesn't really care how punk we are. He merely wants us to leave his fellow Brett alone.

Let's go see what Driftglass has to say, which I've been avoiding until I finished this. Here's Rep. Adam Schiff on how a Democratic House can act "as a check on a dangerous and lawless president." Yeah, it was part of the plan.

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