Archive for the 'Politics' Category

In the executive and judicial branches, Trump appointees will advance ever more severe conservative principles

July 20, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 20, 2018

When the history of Donald Trump’s presidential administration is written, a chapter will likely be devoted to Scott Pruitt’s feckless reign over the Environmental Protection Agency.

The former Oklahoma attorney general’s 17-month tenure at EPA was a microcosm of Trump’s chaotic rule. Disdain for science, contempt for the rule of law, indifference to sound policy-making, eagerness to appease business interests, hunger for personal gain — the Pruitt era featured all the hallmarks that have come to represent Trumpist governance.

Pruitt’s replacement will be Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who once served as an aide to Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is the Senate’s most ardent climate skeptic. Wheeler will be hard-pressed to match Pruitt’s record of corruption and incompetence, which led to his resignation and distracted from his attempts to dismantle environmental regulations. It’s yet to be seen if Wheeler will be more effective at unraveling anti-pollution measures, although some pundits fear that he will surpass his former boss in this regard.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Cheeps and Chirps: Trumpian perfectly normal presidency special edition

June 7, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 7, 2018

Presenting some tweets about Donald Trump’s perfectly normal presidency!

Read the rest of this entry »

Election follow-up: May 2018 primary

May 13, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 13, 2018

It’s safe to say that Tuesday night’s results support the notion that my views are not widely held by Durham County’s Democratic electorate. Incumbent Sheriff Mike Andrews was defeated by challenger Clarence Birkhead, in a rematch of Durham’s 2014 sheriff election, while incumbent district attorney Roger Echols was upset by challenger Satana Deberry.

A key measure of a healthy, functional democracy — or a functional republic, if you prefer — is that the supporters of losing candidates accept the results as legitimate. And I do!

But, while I hold no animus toward either victor, I stand by the reservations I expressed in my previous post about both of the candidates (as well as about Andrews). I suppose only time will tell whether Birkhead is a good sheriff or Deberry a good D.A. It might be a while, if ever, before I produce an edition of my Patented Pundit Scorecard™ on this topic.

Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from the polls: Primary election, May 8, 2018, Durham, North Carolina

May 8, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 8, 2018

Author’s note: About 90 minutes after this post was first published, I added a disclaimer at the bottom in the interests of completely disclosing the relationship with and potential biases I may have had regarding Durham sheriff candidates. MEM

If you check my record as a North Carolina voter, you’ll find that prior to today, I’d participated in nine primary elections over the course of nearly 14 years. As an unaffiliated voter, the state lets me choose which primary ballot I use: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or nonpartisan.

This spring, the Green Party became the fourth political party certified to place candidates on North Carolina ballots, but this happened too late for the current primary voting cycle. The Libertarian Party has been officially recognized in the Old North State since 2008.

As a Durham County resident, however, Republican and Libertarian ballots rarely afford much in the way of choice. Durham is North Carolina’s fifth most-populous county, but it has the state’s fourth-highest number of registered Democrats. (The Bull City and its surrounding county surpass the slightly more populous Forsyth County, home of the city of Winston-Salem, in terms of the sheer number of Democrats registered here.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on James Comey, the law-enforcement official who helped elected a corrupt president

April 21, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 21, 2018

When Donald Trump’s rampage through politics is fictionalized — assuming civilization survives the Trump administration — the figure of one James Comey will loom large. This will be especially true, I imagine, in any operas that might be written about final days of the 2016 campaign and the early months of Trump’s reign.

Once an assistant federal prosecutor who targeted New York crime families, Comey was elevated first to U.S. attorney and then to deputy attorney general by President George W. Bush. In the spring of 2004, Comey rushed to the hospital room of his boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, to block White House officials from reauthorizing a sweeping domestic surveillance program that several Justice Department officials believed featured illegal components.

Comey is widely admired in civil liberties circles for taking this stand, but not all of his decisions are as popular. Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that Comey was criticized for his defense of the indefinite detention of Jose Padilla, an American citizen whom the government classified as an “enemy combatant.” Still, when President Barack Obama nominated Comey to lead the FBI in 2013, the Senate confirmed his appointment on a 93-1 vote.

Comey appears to be a devout Christian. He studied chemistry and religion at William & Mary, where, according to CNN, he “wrote a thesis comparing the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr to the televangelist Jerry Falwell.” Comey wed to his college girlfriend in 1987, two years after earning a law degree from the University of Chicago; they remain married and have had six children together.

Read the rest of this entry »

Crime and misdemeanors: A crowd tears down a Confederate monument in my home town

August 15, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 15, 2017

It’s not every day that Durham, N.C., gets national attention — and it’s even rarer when the City of Medicine generates widespread news coverage for something other than college basketball. Unfortunately, despite being in town yesterday, I was completely unaware of what might be a seminal moment in an important national news story until a few hours after the event had taken place.

On Monday evening, protesters pulled down a monument to Confederate soldiers that stood in front of the Durham County Administration Building, which served as the county courthouse from 1916 through 1978. The statue in question was erected in 1924; the front of its pedestal reads, “In memory of ‘The Boys who Wore the Gray.’”

I won’t miss the statue; it venerated soldiers who, while they may have fought bravely, did so in service to a disloyal would-be nation that was dedicated to keeping black men, women and children in bondage.

Durham, like many American cities, is full of symbols of disdain for African-Americans, some more explicit than others. One example — subtler than the statue of the rebel soldier, but more prominent in a way — is the Durham Freeway, a.k.a. N.C. 147, an expressway built in the late 1960s that devastated a once-thriving black community named Hayti. These badges of dishonor can never be wholly erased; nor should they, for to plaster over past injustices is to invite their repetition. But neither should such affronts be afforded undeserved esteem.

Read the rest of this entry »

My public comment in support of preserving America’s national monuments

July 12, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 12, 2017

On Monday, I happened across this essay by Brent Rose about more than two dozen national monuments that could lose their protected status. This spring, after President Donald Trump ordered Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, to conduct a review process that may lead to the revocation of some of their status as national monuments, Rose resolved to travel to the 22 monuments located in the continental United States.

I was so moved by Rose’s essay that I decided to leave a public comment on the process at regulations.gov. (The period for commenting closed at midnight on Monday.)

The following text is a slightly edited version of the comment that I made:

~~~

I’m writing to urge Secretary Zinke to uphold designations of National Monuments and Marine National Monuments unless there is overwhelming evidence that such designations were improperly made and/or that such designations directly harm the public interest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Donald Trump and Barack Obama: Examining off-the-cuff American history lessons from our two most recent presidents

May 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 3, 2017

I was tickled to my cynical core Monday morning when I learned that President Donald Trump had bloviated about Andrew Jackson, one of his antecedents in the Oval Office, and the Civil War. After all, who better than Trump — who in February became the first to discover, regarding health care policy, “It’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated” — to lecture the American public on history?

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Salena Zito that aired Monday, Trump said the following about the nation’s seventh president:

I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

There are plenty of analyses of (this edition of) Trump’s dunderheaded comments; see, for instance, this Jeet Heer joint at The New Republic. But it got me wondering: Did Trump’s predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama, ever speak extemporaneously about Andrew Jackson or the Civil War? And if so, had he ever made such dumbfounding remarks?

Read the rest of this entry »

On presidential propriety and Donald Trump

March 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 31, 2017

Last June, journalist Robert Kuttner examined the different ways in which a then-hypothetical President Trump might abuse his power.

We are now 70 days into the Trump administration, a span in which the administration has been mired amid scandal, incompetence and apparent if not actual corruption, not to mention historically low approval ratings. Yes, it’s early, but we can get a good sense of the ways in which Kuttner — who once reported on the methods by which President Nixon politicized the Internal Revenue Service — was right and wrong in his prognostications about the figure I’ve taken to calling President Short Attention Span.

Trump will insist on loyalty. Kuttner was spot-on about this. In his eagerness to blame the failure of his ill-advised health-care reform initiative on everyone not named Donald Trump, the president blamed Democrats and Republicans alike. The commander-in-chief seemed particularly eager to call out Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, notwithstanding Ryan’s relative obeisance to Trump, as well as members of the House Freedom Caucus who objected that the American Health Care Act wasn’t cruel enough.

Read the rest of this entry »

The news cycle gazes fondly upon Trump, but only for a brief moment in time

March 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 3, 2017

President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday was, by his low standards, not a bad speech. Trump largely stuck to his script, offering little in the way of needless provocation. While the address contained plenty of misleading information, it featured a notable dearth of novel or headline-making lies. This is, shall we say, a slender basis for praising the leader of the free world. Then again, that’s where we are in 2017.

Unfortunately, much of what the president said was undercut either by the facts or by his earlier statements — in some cases, ones that Trump had made that very morning.

Trump took a few seconds at the beginning of his remarks to condemn the wave of anti-semitic bomb threats and cemetery vandalism as well as “last week’s shooting in Kansas City,” an apparent reference to what appears to have been a racially motivated murder in Olathe, Kansas. Some commentators called this a grace note, but this was literally the least that the president could have done — Trump, who is quick to snipe at people who disagree with him on Twitter, had been silent on the subject for days. Moreover, that morning, he’d suggested to Fox News interviewers that the wave of anti-semitic incidents might be a false-flag operation designed to make him and his deplorable followers look bad.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fiction vs. reality: On triggering — or countering — ‘The Pence Contingency’

February 22, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 22, 2017

Ever since November’s election, it’s been hard to shake the feeling that we’re living in an airport-bookstore thriller. I can just envision the jacket copy for this beach read:

An erratic businessman has been elected to the White House. Ultra-wealthy Americans, Washington bureaucrats and foreign governments plot how to implement their divergent agendas while distancing themselves from the damage that the unpredictable president is doing to the social, political and international institutions that have maintained domestic and global stability ever since the end of the Cold War. But a small faction of fanatical conservative elites are using the conflict and chaos as cover for a secret plan that could leave America under their direct control for years to come…

The plot almost writes itself. Vladimir Putin and his top advisors subtly push the president to disavow America’s NATO commitments; China, Iran and various fundamentalist terrorist groups — of both the radical Islamic and radical Christian varieties — scheme to undermine confidence in America’s ability to maintain peace and security; the upper crust and their conservative allies work to reduce the 1 percent’s tax burden while cutting the safety net and other social services; a medley of Fox News broadcasters and Republican governors, administrators and legislators promote and enact reforms that allow conservative Christians to punish unmarried women for having sex and homosexuals and non-Christians for reminding anyone of their existence.

Read the rest of this entry »

Divert, distort, distract: An early controversy sets the tone for Trump’s reign

February 1, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 1, 2017

As the ghastly mess that was the drafting and rollout of the new executive order limiting the entry of refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations became fully apparent over the weekend, I wondered about this episode’s implications for the remaining 207 weeks of President Trump’s administration.

As noted Monday afternoon, the incompetence displayed by the newly installed executive and his crew was deeply troubling. But that wasn’t the only striking thing about the incident; indeed, I think many of the patterns that we saw over the past few days will recur time and again over the coming three years, 11 months and change.

Consider the following:

The administration bypassed normal government operating procedures. As discussed yesterday, a number of lawyers and agencies weren’t consulted about the travel ban. Trump, a business executive unused to working within governmental constraints, loves to make his own rules, even when he’s been warned that there are very good reasons for following established procedure.

The administration got help from congressional employees while keeping Republican lawmakers in the dark. On Monday evening, Politico reported that top Trump aides had recruited senior congressional staffers to help draft the order without informing any actual members of Congress; indeed, the staffers were required to sign nondisclosure agreements. Competent, transparent administrations don’t work that way; but of course, Trump’s crew has not yet developed a feel nor show an inclination for working conventionally and has never displayed any desire to be transparent.

Read the rest of this entry »

All the president’s incompetence: Unnerving early signs from the Trump administration

January 30, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 30, 2017

There’s a classic joke in which two women are dining at a restaurant. (A version of it appears in Woody Allen’s 1977 movie Annie Hall.) One lady says, “The food at this place is really terrible.” The other lady replies, “I know, and such small portions!”

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this while reading an otherwise sobering essay Saturday night about an executive order that President Donald Trump issued on Friday during a visit to the Pentagon. The document, as much of the world now knows, was designed to bar entry to travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries for three months and to suspend all refugee admissions for six months. It quickly attracted a great deal of outrage, much of it associated with the hashtag #MuslimBan, and led to a series of judicial defeats for the fledgling administration as the ACLU and other civil-rights lawyers filed lawsuits in various federal district courts.

Reports emerged that the executive order had been drafted virtually in secret, without input from the federal lawyers or agencies that normally would vet such administrative initiatives. Informal Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that the president had asked him and a panel of attorneys, including former George W. Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey and at least one sitting Republican congressman (from Texas, natch) to design a Muslim ban that could pass legal muster.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cheeps and Chirps for Jan. 29, 2017

January 29, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 29, 2017

Wow, I didn’t realized it had been so long since I’d shared some of my Twitter gems.

I’m going to limit myself to tweets from Jan. 28, as the cruelty of President Trump’s executive order banning Muslims sank in, and as news broke that the president’s inner circle was going to limit the participation of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in some key national security meetings.

• ZOMG Donald Trump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump, unchecked: The president-elect tilts hard right as his elevation to office approaches

December 17, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 17, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, unless something unprecedented occurs, the electoral college will officially designate Donald Trump Sr. the winner of the 2016 United States presidential election.

I expect this to happen, although it should be noted that an incredible number of things about this election have been unprecedented. For instance, Hillary Clinton was the first female presidential candidate to be nominated by a major American political party, and Trump was the candidate with the thinnest (read: a nonexistent) record of public or military service.

I’ve experienced a number of emotions since Trump’s election, including disbelief, disappointment, anger, resignation and sorrow. I also felt, for a time, something unexpected: hope.

Trump’s victory speech was unexpectedly magnanimous, given the harsh nature of his campaign. The man who during the second presidential debate had threatened to jail his opponent over missing emails from her tenure as secretary of state struck a gracious note early in the address that he delivered around 3 a.m. on the East Coast on Nov. 9:

Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.

Read the rest of this entry »

No prior experience? No problem! Trump fans hail the election of a candidate with a historically thin résumé

November 18, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 18, 2016

With the election of Donald John Trump Sr. as president of the United States of America on Nov. 8, 2016, the nation entered a new era: That of the celebrity-president.

Trump will be just the fourth president in our nation’s history never to have held public office prior to entering the White House. He will be the first to do so without any experience serving in either the military or elected office.

Trump had three predecessors who lacked any political experience: Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower. Grant served in the army for 23 years, according to Vox’s Zachary Crockett, while Eisenhower had a 37-year-long military career and Taylor’s army stint spanned four decades. All three reached the rank of general; all three supervised forces in battle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why #ImWithHer: Considering Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

November 7, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 7, 2016

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, I will vote for Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States of America. The Democratic candidate is an imperfect individual, but she is eminently qualified to serve as president, and I expect her to be an acceptable — and perhaps even an excellent — steward of the national interests as chief executive.

By contrast, knowing what I do about the character and campaign of her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, I cannot imagine myself backing him in good conscience for any position of importance.

Trump seems temperamentally unsuited for high office, as indicated by two recent news items. One is that he and adviser Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chief, have parted ways because, according to a reporter, “Trump couldn’t focus — surprise, surprise — and … advising him was a waste of time… [The] debate prep sessions weren’t going anywhere.” The other is that Trump’s campaign has managed to wrest control of his Twitter account away from the candidate. (The Trump camp disputes both reports. Instead, a surrogate has blamed Ailes for telling irrelevant war stories when he was supposed to be preparing the candidate for his encounters with Clinton, and an aide maintains that Trump still runs the account.)

All of which is to ignore numerous signs of Trump’s misogynistic attitudes and actions, which would have disqualified most candidates in previous elections.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tax evader, faux philanthropist, unsuccessful businessman: Reviewing Trump’s qualifications to serve as president

October 7, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 7, 2016

In a little more than four weeks, Americans will choose the 45th president of the United States of America. I am, frankly, not wild about the Democratic Party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, for whom I did not vote in the North Carolina primary election. But as regular readers will know, I have no love or respect for Donald Trump.

But even though I feel somewhat jaded about this presidential contest, every few days, at least one or two items come out — usually because Trump has done or said something outrageous or because reporters have uncovered one of Trump’s past exploits — that leave me astonished that the Republican Party decided Trump was a fitting candidate to lead the free world.

Here’s a recap from the past few days, mainly prompted by The New York Times’s receipt of leaked partial tax returns. The documents showed that Trump declared a loss on his 1995 income tax returns that was large enough to exempt him from paying federal taxes for 18 years.

Trump took advantage of loopholes that, while legal, are available mainly to people who are rich or who develop real estate or both. It’s long been suspected that Trump has evaded a great deal of tax liability, but the Times story lent additional credence to that notion.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why needing ID to buy alcohol is not like needing ID to vote

August 23, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 23, 2016

Over a two-week stretch in late July, six courts handed down decisions suspending parts of restrictive voting rules in five states. After a three-judge federal appeals court panel blocked a North Carolina election law that it found was enacted with discriminatory intent, I posted the following tweet:

A Trump-backing Twitter user with the amusing handle TimeToupee responded, “So then the Courts should rule we don’t need an ID to fly, buy liquor, or drive.”

I answered that they would do that (perhaps it would have been more temperate to say they might do that) “if Republican law-makers kept passing travel/liquor ID laws that narrowly targeted minorities.”

My new Trump-loving friend was not persuaded. “Minorities are not targeted by voter ID laws. That is a liberal myth,” he wrote.

He was, of course, wrong, and I said so: “[T]hat they target minorities is a major reason these laws keep on getting stopped by courts.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Phantom gunshots, real terror: Notes on two recent incidents in the land of the free, home of the armed (and fearful)

August 18, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 18, 2016

In Tuesday’s edition of Cheeps and Chirps, I included a tweet from Saturday that shared a breaking news alert:

This was one of the lead news stories in the Triangle on Saturday, but what I didn’t realize when I was preparing the blog post was that police have yet to find any evidence that a gun was actually fired at the mall that afternoon. I deleted it from the post once I understood that there had evidently not been any kind of shooting whatsoever. Authorities are continuing to investigate the reason why shoppers thought that a firearm had been discharged, a misperception that provoked a stampede that left several people injured.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tragedy upon tragedy: America suffers its worst week in nearly 15 years

July 9, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 9, 2016

This week, two men — two black men — who did not seem to pose an imminent threat to anyone were shot to death by police officers in Baton Rouge, La., and in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. About 24 hours after the death of the second man, Philando Castile, a gunman began firing at the conclusion of a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dallas. Five law enforcement officers died; eight other people were wounded, all but two of whom were police.

More than two years ago, I called April 2, 2014, “a most American day” because of the events that took place on a seemingly ordinary Wednesday. That morning, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision that eased restrictions on political donations, thereby further paving the way for America’s wealthy to expand their influence on the nation’s political process. That afternoon, a mass shooting took place at Fort Hood in Texas, as three people were killed and 13 others injured by a soldier who subsequently took his own life.

That was a bad day, and bad in ways that were characteristically American; that is, in ways that showed off our nation’s embrace of money and guns. This past week, I think, has also been uniquely American, and for some of the same reasons. In fact, I think this has been the most discouraging week for our nation since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Memo to Donald: Everyone loves a mischievous television scamp

June 18, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 18, 2016

Yesterday, I surveyed the troubled state of the campaign of New York real-estate mogul and reality-TV star Donald Trump. Today, I wanted to offer a modest proposal aimed at revitalizing his run for the presidency.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Trump is a master at grabbing the attention of the news media, largely because he says a lot of outrageous things. It’s a truth nearly as widely accepted, however, that an alarmingly high proportion of the outrageous things he says earn him condemnation.

My solution is simple: Turn the candidate’s liability into an asset by casting Trump as an archetypal sitcom character that everyone recognizes and loves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Candidate Donald: A brief status report on the GOP presidential candidate

June 17, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 17, 2016

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is struggling — and his difficulties could harm his party’s electoral chances.

Recently, Trump issued several scathing attacks on Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge overseeing civil fraud lawsuits against the defunct Trump Entrepreneur Initiative Trump “University.”  Trump’s sharp words earned him reprimands from several Republican allies. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who’s facing a difficult re-election battle in Illinois, withdrew his endorsement of Trump, saying, “I cannot support him because of what he said about the judge. That was too racist and bigoted for me.” U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic despite their shared party affiliation, tweeted that “[s]aying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of ‘racism.’”

After Sunday morning’s tragic gun massacre in Orlando, the New York businessman suggested that President Obama is some kind of Islamic terrorist sympathizer, if not an outright mole, and reupped his recommendation that Muslims be banned from entering the nation. Politico had a good roundup of Republicans’ dismayed responses to Trump’s swagger. “I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest. I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said.

Read the rest of this entry »

A very dubious argument about the use of a certain racial slur

May 10, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 10, 2016

Author’s note: This post involves a racial slur and as such may not be appropriate for all readers, especially young ones. MEM

Larry Wilmore, host of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show,” wrapped up the April 30 White House Correspondents’ Dinner in controversial fashion. He spoke for about 20 minutes, cracking jokes at the expense of many of the politicians and broadcasters in attendance as well as a few, for instance Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who weren’t. TV networks such as Fox and MSNBC got some flack, as did all of print journalism and C-SPAN’s audience.

Some of the wisecracks landed, like when Wilmore referred to Trump’s having said that if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were a man, she’d fare poorly with voters and quipped, “[I]f Hillary Clinton were suddenly a man, her biggest problem would be finding a bathroom she’d be allowed to use in North Carolina.” But most of the jokes went over poorly with the audience, such as when Wilmore joked that Obama and pro basketball player Steph Curry both “like raining down bombs on people from long distances.”

Wilmore worked up to a pretty heartfelt climax. Near the end, he said, in all sincerity, “When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a black quarterback. Now think about that. A black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team — and now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world.”

This earnest sentiment earned Wilmore one of his biggest ovations of the night.

Read the rest of this entry »

Exit Ted Cruz… for now

May 6, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 6, 2016

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas ended his presidential campaign Tuesday night after losing the Indiana primary by 16 points to businessman Donald Trump. The outcome in the Hoosier State all but assured Trump of obtaining the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. Ohio Gov. John Kasich — who still had fewer delegates than U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, despite the fact that the Floridian dropped out of the race in March — ended his campaign on Wednesday, only a few hours after GOP national chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged that Trump was the party’s presumptive nominee.

So here we are: The man whom many predicted would never win the nomination, and whom I predicted wouldn’t even win a single primary or caucus, has vanquished all comers from the party of elephants.

In truth, I’m sorry to see Cruz go. Tracking his campaign was like watching a suspense thriller. Would the obvious creep — and Cruz’s off-putting personality and looks were matched only by his heartless radical-right policies — be able to charm, fool, injure or kill all the characters who stood any chance of detecting and foiling his evil scheme?

Cruz, after all, isn’t just someone who was famously loathed by his freshman-year college roommate and widely reviled by his Senate colleagues and fellow Republicans. Recall that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) tepidly endorsed Cruz about three weeks after saying, in a speech at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd Congressional Dinner, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you.”

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: