A Poem by Sarah Palin

You gotta give it to her–at least she writes her own speeches. And she’s campaigning hard for Trump.

I added just one word (my nod to TS Eliot). This is America, folks, 14 years to the day after irony was said to have died.

So as Obama leads from behind the skirt
Of his right-hand man, Valerie Jarrett,
Then it’s up to Congress to close that window.
He may propose;
You dispose, Congress.
You gotta be in it to win it because we want peace
With unapologetic mighty red, white, and blue.
Will have peace:
Shanti Shanti Shanti

Kim Davis’s Imprisonment is Good for Some Republicans (but not for Kim Davis)

I don’t feel the least bit vindictive about Kim Davis. The jokey memes going around on the Internet–about her bad hair, her bad marriages, her born out-of-wedlock twins–make me cringe. Born-again Christians aren’t hypocrites for having been sinners. Kim Davis would be the first person to tell you how bad she used to be in her own lights: that’s why being “saved” and staying saved is so important to her.

Truth be told, I feel sorry for her. She’s had this fantastically high-paying government job ($86,000 per year in a county where the per capita annual income, the Census Bureau tells me, is about $17,000) that she is almost certainly going to lose on principle–or because of the terrible advice she’s been getting from the cynical lawyers* and pols who are egging her on.

And don’t believe the know-it-alls who tell you how rich she’s going to get from her book and her public appearances. She’s too old and not enough of a Barbie Doll for Fox News to spend much post-prison time on her, and besides, she’s a registered Democrat (not to mention her messy past). She’s no Sarah or Bristol Palin, and the Palins’ careers aren’t exactly vectoring in the right directions either. I worked in book publishing for a long time; I think I know whereof I speak, at least when it comes to deals for ghost-written instant books. Trust me, HarperCollins won’t be blazing any paths to Kim Davis’s door.

For all of the snark and bathos and hyperbole I read on the Internet, very few people seem to have grasped the essential point–that she’s in jail not because of what she refuses to do herself (her so-called civil disobedience), but because of what she won’t let her clerks do (her dereliction of duty and misuse of her office). The deal she spurned that the conservative Bush-appointed Republican judge offered her would have let her not do her job so long as she allowed her subordinates to carry out theirs , which is precisely what they are doing now that she is locked up.

Naturally Mike Huckabee, who is hoping to make the most hay out of Davis’s misfortune, sees things differently. He says that Christianity itself is being “criminalized” and is looking to re-launch his brand with a personal visit to her in jail on Tuesday, followed by a camera-ready “I’m With Kim Liberty Rally.” Cruz says that her persecutors believe “that Christians should not serve in public office.” Jindal says that it’s wrong that “anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions”–which is why military officers are allowed to order their men to lay down their arms if they don’t approve of the wars they’re fighting, to name just one example.

Rand Paul, who apparently didn’t know about the deal Davis rejected, said that the feds should have compromised and let a notary public sign the licenses; I actually agree with him that Davis’s jailing may set the pro-gay marriage movement back somewhat. “What’s going to happen is it’s going to harden people’s resolve on this issue,” he said (the quotes in this and the above paragraph come from this CNN compendium of candidates’ reactions).

Fiorina and Christie say she should resign. Kasich too. He says it’s stupid that she’s in jail, but that she should carry out the law as she was elected to do. Not that anyone cares about what Jeb Bush thinks (who’s no stranger to making martyrs out of women, having exploited Terri Schiavo so egregiously ten years ago, and even tried to put her husband in jail), but this time around he’s hewing to the reasonable middle, saying that Davis was “sworn to uphold the law and it seems to me there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and…now that the law is the law of the land, for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is.” Donald Trump is oddly temporizing, saying, in diction that is oddly reminiscent of Jeb’s brother’s, that he is “a believer on both sides of the issue.”

So six months before a single vote has been cast, a pair of dueling martyrs has emerged, staking out the GOP’s two poles. Trump’s Know Nothings have made Kathryn Steinle, the young woman who was murdered by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, into theirs, claiming that a border wall might have saved her life (much to the consternation of her family); his opponents are vesting their hopes in Kim Davis and the whole panoply of values issues that defined Republican campaigning in the good old days before Trump upended everything.

And they say the Republicans don’t care about women!


*Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver’s causes include the War on Christmas and creation science; naturally he has compared Kim Davis’s plight to the Jews’ in Nazi Germany.

My Fifteen Minutes as a Trump Basher

My 15 minutes lasted just over 24 hours, but I think it’s run its course. Having a right wing celebrity like Ann Coulter notice me was exciting, but now just the bottom feeders are thinking about me. This morning I woke up to an e mail telling me to “go back to selling tchotskies” and I just stumbled on this comment about my Times piece on a site that wasn’t familiar to me: “Nasty bit of stereotypical Jewish slander by Goldwag….. I’m sure Kevin MacDonald has some things to say about this patented Jewish technique of “putting the goyim and their ‘leaders’ on the couch.” This guy also hit me with the “gotcha” that Ammann wasn’t Swedish. Not the most careful reader in the world.

MacDonald actually did publish something about me about back when THE NEW HATE came out. Among other things he said, “Jewish polemics against rightwing populism are an old and dishonorable tradition at this point, but writers like Goldwag have to keep reinventing it in order to keep up the paranoia in their audience.”

I’m not particularly paranoid about anti-Semitism; I’ve certainly never suffered in any material way because of it. If I hadn’t written about it, I would think that it’s as extinct as anti-Masonry and anti-Papism are in this country. But since I have, I’ve sort of had my nose rubbed in the fact that it does live on–along with the vestiges of anti-Masonry and anti-Catholicism. As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same–at least in the murkiest of murky depths.

And now back to my life.

Trump and Republicans

Thomas Edsall defines Trump’s single-issue constituency and their demography on today’s NY Times op ed page (“Donald Trump Understands Republicans“). What he understands is that the party’s latent Nativism trumps the rest of its ideolog(ies).

Republicanism has always been driven and led by business interests, but its coalition broadened considerably in the 1960s, when it began absorbing Southern Democrats; in the 1970s when it took in formerly Democratic anti-Abortion Catholics, and evangelicals, who had been apolitical for generations; and of course in the 1980s, when Reagan brought in so many blue collar voters. The Cold War consensus had kept isolationists in both parties in the shadows, but under Bush II, Neo-con interventionism rose to the fore again, driving its recently-revenant isolationists back underground.

Trump’s Know-Nothingism resonates strongest with those blue collar and southern voters–who aren’t necessarily in synch with the ruling business interests on taxes (they want low taxes for themselves, but not for the 1 percent), Social Security, and interventionism, or with the evangelicals on moral issues. One of the commenters on my NY Times piece yesterday wrote “America First!” which brought the 1930s to mind in a chilling way.

It’s paradoxical that a billionaire should derive so much from benefit from wage inequality, but it’s not unprecedented–Henry Ford, who was both a more consequential businessman than Trump and a more principled hater, was pressed by rural populists to run for president in the 1920s.

The bottom line for me? Trump could break up the Republican Party, but he could also win.

Donald Trump’s Rosebud Moment


“Great salespeople truly understand the people they are dealing with,” Mr. Trump has written. And who are the people that he is closing his presidential deal with? People who are afraid that they are being made suckers too. Mr. Trump’s angry certainty that immigrants and other losers are destroying the country while the cultural elites that look down on him stand by and do nothing resonates strongly with the less-educated, lower-income whites who appear to be his base.

That’s me on Donald Trump in The New York Times–as visible a forum as I could have hoped for. It’s not going to change any minds, but added to all the other grains of sand, maybe it will help bring him back to earth.

Chance the Gardener


If all goes well, the Donald Trump article I posted and took down the other day will reappear as an opinion piece in a big venue fairly soon–I will post a link.  In the meantime, Trump continues to loom large in my nightmares.

This article in The Hill is terrifying: “Trump’s business acumen is proven…..he isn’t afraid of the media, nor does he use the crutch of notes and prepared speeches. He’s a negotiator, not a political puppet. He’s a dealmaker who thrives in the hot seat of a boardroom. Logic suggests he’ll be the same in foreign negotiations or hunkered down in a military command center….Trump will sail to victory next year.”

I’m beginning to think that Trump is a mirror world Chauncey Gardner, the savant that Peter Sellers played in BEING THERE. He’s as mean as Chauncey was naive, and as cunning as Chauncey was simple, but he’s making it up as he goes along just the same. People look at him and listen to him and see and hear what they need to. Hillaryites see the buffoon that their standard-bearer can’t fail to beat; the silent majority (are they really a majority?) see their knight in shining armor.

How can I put this? If Trump does become our president, he will be precisely the president we deserve.

PS Wow, I just scrolled down and read what I wrote on June 26, after the court upheld gay marriage and Obamacare. I predicted that the Republicans would put the repeal of both at the center of the 2016 campaign. Instead their front-runner is a guy whose response to a reporter’s question as to what he’d say to a married gay couple who asked him how, with his multiple marriages, he could pass judgement on theirs, answered, “I guess I’d tell them that they have a point”; and who praised Scotland and Canada’s single-payer system at the first debate.

It kind of makes your head spin. When the chips are down, hate trumps ideology and even religion (excuse the pun) right down the line–the evangelicals are backing Trump two to one compared to Huckabee. It’s ironic that a billionaire should owe his populist appeal to wage inequality (you’d think they’d hate him), but as I’ve always said, the good Lord’s sense of irony is beyond post-modern. Actually I’ve never said that till now, but I probably will again.

Can we all agree that Trump isn’t funny anymore? And that he’s not good for the Democrats–at least if we nominate Hillary Clinton?