On civility, politicians, and owning up to what you do or say; gubernatorial candidates and other such things

First, a brief Alabama limerick from Politics and Other Stuff editor Paul Fisk:

                Twice kicked from the bench he did sit on

                Roy Moore chose the Senate to bid on

                Now they showed him the door

                And so much for Roy Moore

                And the same to the horse he rode in on

WOW! 

                        Decency wins (Senator Jeff Flake)

The Buffalo News ran an interesting interview this past Saturday with former members of Congress John LaFalce and Tom Reynolds. It was just as I would have expected from these two old friends – staking out their respective political positions but nonetheless remaining civil and respectful of the other’s positions. I would say how welcoming, except that these fellows are not in Congress anymore.

Political discourse in the United States has been trending down a long and slippery slope for quite a while now. Cable news and the internet have had a lot to do with these developments and there is no good way to put the genie back into the bottle. The vitriolic climate encouraged by Donald Trump over the past two and a half years has pushed negative things at warp speed.

On Sunday Bob McCarthy’s column in the News featured a discussion about how two prominent local Trump supporters, Nick Langworthy and Michael Caputo, are holding fast to their support of Trump in the face of strong political headwinds. They say that Trump is being Trump, and they seem to feel that he should be credited with disrupting the political atmosphere, pretty much just for the sake of disrupting. But Langworthy, Caputo and others in the Trump camp seem to prefer generalities while mostly ignoring or accepting what Trump does or says. My religion and philosophy professors at Canisius used to frown on transactional morality.

Trump personally takes no responsibility for anything. Everything is someone else’s fault. Everything that does not get reported the way he would prefer is “fake news.” His minions, such as Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and most everyone else who works for him, buy into that line, except maybe for Rex Tillerson (“moron”) and Nikki Haley (“the women are credible.”)

Most active Republicans, including the two local gentlemen, have had no problem over the years repeatedly attaching Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi to every Democratic candidate who ever took a breath. So here’s some news for my Republican friends: it works both ways.

Donald Trump is now the leader of the Republican Party. While he takes no responsibility for what he does or says, he is responsible. And so are his followers, who overwhelmingly support the lies and personal attacks that come out of his mouth and from his phone every day.

The McCarthy column reports Langworthy’s view that the Alabama election is of no real concern in New York State. Wrong, Nick. You promote him and support him and so, by affiliation, you have adopted what the leader of your party is selling. And no, Nick, the tax bill is not going to make everything great. Support or acceptance of the Trump-Moore axis means not only accepting the sexual harassment and assault issues, but also the other Moore stances that neither Trump nor anyone nationally or locally in the Republican Party have renounced, such as the Moore statement suggesting death for gay men and women; opposition to women or Muslims holding public office; ignorance of the Constitution; and stating that the last time America was great was when slavery was practiced in this country.

When the leader of the Republican Party goes in hook-line-and-sinker for an ignorant pedophile in a race for the United States Senate in Alabama, it does have consequences here in Western New York. In analyzing the most recent local elections it is popular, particularly among Republicans, to attribute the small but nonetheless larger than expected voter turnout, and the close results and Democratic victories in many races, to union interest in defeating the proposed constitutional convention issue. That played some part, but it is just as likely that negative Trump feelings in the suburbs had as much or more to do with the Democratic success.

Roy Moore is attached to Trump and they are in turn attached to local Republicans as much as Clinton and Pelosi are attached to Democrats. Live with it, guys. You bought into this new Republican Party and all that comes with it.

The race for governor and other things

As Andrew Cuomo fends off an investigation into his office, a difficult budget preparation and a pending corruption trial of associates, the Republicans cheer on their potential candidate, businessman Harry Wilson. Apparently seeing an opportunity, former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra is now mulling joining the race.

Giambra has little name recognition outside of Western New York, and in Western New York, where his name recognition is greater, it may not be a positive benefit. Giambra’s work as County Executive led to the financial collapse of the county in 2005 and the creation of a State Control Board to oversee the county’s budget. Giambra works for Cuomo-pal Al D’Amato. Just wondering: is there some level of intrigue playing out among those characters?

There has also been some internet chatter about former Republican Congressman Chris Gibson entering the race. Gibson voluntarily left Congress in 2017 after serving three terms. Excuse the yawn.

As for the FBI investigation into Cuomo’s office, there are not, of course, any details about what’s going on. On the surface it is hard to understand what the big deal is about moving departmental staff to the Executive Chamber, or what, for that matter, is the federal issue involved.

Whether there turns out to be a real contest for governor or not will likely be determined by January when Wilson announces his decision. After that, it’s either “game on” or “wait until next time.”

That, in turn, might have some effect on the leadership of the State Republican Party. Ed Cox has accomplished nothing as chairman, so he could be out next fall. There were Republican losses from Nassau to Erie County last month, so someone emerging as an alternative to Cox might also have some explaining to do. Don’t be surprised to see Nick Langworthy in the state chairmanship mix next September.

The Trump administration is a big question mark

Where to begin?

I was blindsided as much as at least half the country Tuesday night. It is going to take an extended period of time to see what this election means. Elections have consequences.

I think the campaign, as a previous post noted, was rigged by some Republican-controlled state governments that worked to restrict voting opportunities. But the polls were open everywhere on Tuesday, with people free to come and vote. Fewer did so than four years ago. More people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. Imagine what would be going on today if Trump had more votes and Clinton won the Electoral College. Continue reading

Hillary and Steve — emails and judgment

My friend and mentor, Joe Crangle, taught me many things. Some were very specific to the campaign at hand, but other pieces of wisdom were basic life-guiding principles.

There was one lesson that I learned more than 40 years ago that has stayed with me all this time. It is very simple: “never write or say anything that you won’t mind seeing on the front page of tomorrow morning’s newspaper.” Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s problems; the national Democratic Party’s problems; plus, how right-wing is the 2016 Republican Party?

Things are moving along in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. Candidates are all visiting the full-sized buttered cow at the Iowa State Fair.  Millions of dollars are being raised and spent.  The talking heads on TV are going into overdrive.

The focus so far has been on the Republican field of candidates. More on that later in this post.  This article is mostly about the Democratic field, such as it is.  And also, what that field says about the state of the national Democratic Party going into 2016. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s litmus test for potential Supreme Court nominees

As you may have noticed, there will be an election for President of the United States in 2016. What you may not be paying as much attention to, however, is that the next president may get to appoint a justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Supreme Court justices serve lifetime terms. Occasionally a justice will resign or retire, but often only death creates a vacancy on the Court. Continue reading