Has the Dog Whistle Turned into a Bullhorn?

For the past several years, Republicans have been accused of engaging in dog whistle politics. They say messages that to the casual listener sound innocuous but carry a more insidious message only bigots and racists can hear. 

Along comes Donald J. Trump and his message is loud and clear. Illegal immigrants crossing our southern border, predominantly Hispanic, have many murderers and rapists among them. Now, to be fair, Donald has been repeatedly misquoted as applying this statement to ALL Hispanic immigrants. This was never the case. When he first uttered the statement in his announcement speech he was explicit about the target of his slur. 

I’ve long been puzzled about why law abiding Hispanics are not offended by people cutting in line. Why does their ethnic identification with these criminals override their outrage? (And make no mistake, illegal immigrants are by definition criminals. They may be some wonderful people but they’ve committed a crime by evading our normal immigration process.)

Then a famous poem by Martin Niemoller popped into my head:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Perhaps Trump’s message announced over his bullhorn has folks worried about the slippery slope? There are already folks on the right who have taken Trump’s message and broadened it to greater restrict legal immigration. There is now talk of ending birthright citizenship. Where does this notion, born of concern over the legitimate problem of illegal immigration, end? How much risk is there that Trump is sparking a toxic mix of nationalism and xenophobia? 

What is refreshing about Trump may also be dangerous. There is no guessing about what he is saying. He speaks clearly. There are no dog whistles. It remains to be seen whether what comes out of his bullhorn is good or bad for America.  

What do you think? The bar is open. 


BLM in the Hood

BLM in the hood, yo! Folks be gettin’ in the faces of gang bangers saying “stop the violence!”

Naaaah, I’m just kidding. The BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement doesn’t address blacks killing blacks: the leading cause of violent black death in the country. BLM doesn’t address ghetto crime which puts black bodies in the path of police bullets. BLM doesn’t address the connection between the black incarceration-new-Jim-Crow phenomenon and why blacks get in prison in the first place.

BLM is all about evil white supremacy and nothing about black self improvement. Most sane mothers tell their kids “you can’t control other people. All you can control is yourself.” BLM wants a change in others behavior but never talks about change in poor black neighborhoods.

On Larry Wilmore’s “Nightly Show” two out of three panelists were enthralled by BLM, one even claiming the leaders of BLM deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. One poor lone brother said “why don’t we clean up our own house first?” Of course he got booed.

The next time BLM disrupts a progressive candidate’s event, I hope the candidate pulls a Chris Christie and says “until you hold your own accountable, sit down and shut up.”

Now that we’ve lost Bill Cosby as a credible spokesperson, we need someone new to tell black cats to stop killing other black cats and then maybe the “white problem” will get a bit better.

What do you think? The bar is open.


We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Policy Papers

Like many folks, I’m a bit confused by the rise and persistent success of Donald J. Trump as Presidential candidate. People, supposedly smarter than I in these matters, say that without specific policy positions Trump will soon take a nose dive in the polls.

When I heard this theory on the car radio today, I had an epiphany. How many voters read policy papers? How many voters know the nitty gritty details of their favorite candidate’s positions? I’m not saying there aren’t some well informed voters out there but as I discussed in a recent essay, most American voters can barely find their way to the polling place.

Long before Barack Obama’s cult of personality, presidential candidates appealed to voters for purely emotional, cathartic reasons. We had Reagan’s grandfatherly, sunny optimism. We had Kennedy’s youth and (apparent) vitality. Eisenhower was a war hero. Most of these folks had experience in politics. That’s just the nature of the game. But their voting record as a Senator? Puhleeze. The only change we are seeing in 2015 is this:


For once, the populace is saying “we don’t need no stinkin’ policy papers”. Those who like Trump like him because he seems to shoot from the hip. He ignores the “rules of politics”. He doesn’t pretend that you are going to study his ideas. He simply says, “don’t worry, I’ll handle it, and it will be terrific!” Seriously folks, what more does the average American need to know? Want to know how to handle China? Don’t worry about the specifics. We are gonna send Carl Icahn over there to get the job done. DC doesn’t know crap about negotiation. Icahn is a “killer”.

Here we have a candidate who has busted the myth of the functional president. Trump’s an entertainer and he is letting us all in on the truth that the President’s primary job is to be an entertainer … an entertainer who gets the right folks around him to get the job done. Trump is down on Obama (to put it mildly) but what is one of his chief complaints? He complains that Caroline Kennedy is our Ambassador to Japan. He calls it a joke. And of course, it is kind of a joke, isn’t it?

My theory is that Trump is laying bare what fringe elements have been saying for some time, namely that the presidency is largely ceremonial, largely a puppet show with special interests’ hands shoved up the ass of the puppet. And again, how appealing is it to hear a candidate say “I can’t be bought. In fact, I DO the buying.” Trump is defying pundit’s expectations because he’s showing the emperor to be naked in a way no candidate has done. He is changing the rules of the game and none of his opponents nor the media in general know what to do with him.

A Side Note about Bernie Sanders

Because Trump is still seen by many as a side show and spectacle, he is being used to discredit the campaign of Bernie Sanders. Just about no one is making the comparison between the two as a compliment to Bernie. The fact is Bernie and Donald share one key trait. They are telling their audiences a truth that their opponents cannot do convincingly, Hillary Clinton is a phony populist. Martin O’Malley is an old school pol. It’s hard to tell if Jim Webb is even really a liberal. And Lincoln Chafee is … Lincoln Chafee. When it comes to the message of income inequality and that we are all getting the short end of the stick, Bernie is the real deal. And when it comes to exposing the charade that is our presidency and government, Donald is the real deal too.

What do you think? The bar is open.