You can’t out-Trump Trump


With a worldwide audience watching, a prominent celebrity stood on a stage and proudly uttered, twice, the word that tops the list of things you can’t say on television.

The great actor Robert DiNiro seemed to be taking a page from the Donald Trump playbook with an over-the-top, non-substantive attack on the President during his brief moment in the spotlight at the Tony Awards.  What was DiNiro’s point? What was he trying to accomplish with the profane comment?

Aside from making sure everyone knew he didn’t like the President (anyone  paying attention was already aware), the point seemed to be to get a standing ovation.

Mission accomplished.

But how many people who didn’t already agree the current president is a disaster and a menace to the United States changed their opinion as a result of DiNiro’s outburst?

I’ll go out on a limb and estimate the number is “zero.”

I will also speculate a much larger number of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016, but have been experiencing remorse, reacted to DiNiro’s attack and the standing ovation by deciding that a “A guy who pisses off a bunch of overpaid liberal elites wearing tuxedos and evening gowns can’t be all bad.”

Consciously or not, DiNiro was playing Trump’s game by revving up people who already agreed with him. That is not how patriotic Americans can expect to end Trumpism.

Trump was perceived by many of his voters as offering hope, if you can call “What the hell do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump,” a hopeful statement. He promised everything to working people and is delivering nothing. In fact, he’s Robin Hood in reverse.

The Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told the Guardian it was profoundly important that international observers were speaking out about Trump’s impact. “This administration inherited a bad situation with inequality in the US and is now fanning the flames and worsening the situation. What is so disturbing is that Trump, rather than taking measures to ameliorate the problem, is taking measures to aggravate it.”

Top of the list of those measures was the $1.5tn tax cutsenacted by the Republicans last December that slashed corporate tax rates. “Can you believe a country where the life expectancy is already in decline, particularly among those whose income is limited, giving tax breaks to billionaires and corporations while leaving millions of Americans without health insurance?” Stiglitz said.

That is what you talk about when you have the attention of a large group of people if you want to end Trumpism.

Though I’m sure it’s exhilarating to be the man dropping F-bombs on a worldwide audience, it is counter-productive. Time spent defending your use of vulgar language, or debating whether you are being disrespectful to the office of the president, etc, is time you could be using to convince voters to examine what their true self-interests are and to support candidates who actually support programs and policies that will benefit working people.

The first opportunity to bring Trumpism to heel comes in November when Democrats can grab control of the House of Representatives (the Senate might be in play, but the smart people think that’s a long shot). For (at least) one chamber of Congress to finally be able to check the president requires Trumpism opponents win elections in their communities. Doing that means communicating policy ideas in language that will be welcomed and which elucidates the real damage being caused by Trump and Trumpism.

Trumpism will end when people who supported the current president based on his promises and not his personality realize they need to act differently in the next elections.

Mr. DiNiro, with all due respect, the next time you have the world’s attention, please  choose your words with more care than you’ve used in choosing movie roles (like this, and this) in the last decade.

Trumpisn needs to be ended as soon as possible. Trump rode profane name calling and vulgar language to Washington. Trying to out Trump Trump will do nothing to get him out of the White House.



Crooks · Politics

Trump and Blago: It takes one to know one


He didn’t build many bridges while in office, but Rod Blagojevich sure burned a few. That’s why, aside from his devoted wife Patti, few have spoken in support for an early release for the twice-elected former Illinois Governor.

Audio tapes played at his trial showed Blagojevich believed he had something “golden” in the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama and he wanted to be paid for it. Conspiring to “sell” the seat, along with lying to the FBI, bought Blago 14 years in the federal pen.

The current President of the United States today initiated a discussion of whether Blago has suffered enough, while misstating the number years in the prison sentence.

“Because what he did does not justify 18 years in a jail. If you read his statement, it was a foolish statement. There was a lot of bravado … Plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse,” he said. “And it doesn’t, he shouldn’t have been put in jail.”

Fortunately, former Statehouse reporter Don Sevener recently posted to his blog a mini-refresher course on the Blagojevich years, which reminds us that much, though certainly not all, of the blame for Illinois’ current fiscal mess belongs to Blago.

The governor had a billion-dollar appetite for new spending but a budget insufficient to feed it. Unwilling to raise taxes to support his hunger, he took pension “holidays” — i.e. robbing the state’s retirement systems — to pay for populist (and sometimes popular) new programs and initiatives that the state could not afford. He wasn’t the first or only governor to use the tactic, but he was the most extravagant. 


In office barely two months, Blagojevich demanded higher education institutions return what amounted to a quarter of their state appropriation. He then cut higher education budgets — shortchanging students who faced higher tuition and seeding the demise of a higher education system that once ranked among the elite of the nation.

Let’s also remember that the evidence that gave Blagojevich a place of honor in the team photo of corrupt Illinois politicians included a scheme in which the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital saw $8 million in promised state health care funding withheld from his facility.

Mr. Blagojevich on Oct. 8 discussed with one of his campaign fundraisers pressing the executive — named in the criminal complaint as “Hospital Executive 1” — for a $50,000 campaign contribution, allegedly a quid pro quo for the governor’s recent funding commitment, according to the affidavit.

“I’m going to do $8 million for them. I want to get (Hospital Executive 1) for 50,” Mr. Blagojevich told the fundraiser, according to the 78-page affidavit.

Mr. Blagojevich had a conversation with a deputy governor about the status of the funding, as described in the affidavit: “The pediatric doctors — the reimbursement. Has that gone out yet, or is that still on hold?” Mr. Blagojevich asked.

“It’s January 1,” a deputy governor responded.

“And we have total discretion over it?” he asked.

“Yep,” a deputy governor replied.

“We could pull it back if we need to – budgetary concerns – right?”

A deputy replied “yep,” to which the governor said: “That’s good to know,” according to the affidavit.

Again, we’re talking about a hospital that treats sick children. They never did get the money.

Why would this President consider a pardon commuting the sentence for a not too bright, but extremely greedy, selfish jerk, lacking any principles, who screwed over the people who put him in office and cared only about himself and his immediate family?

Let’s just say Donald Trump understands Rod Blagojevich.

Should he decide to spring the former governor, perhaps the President could help Blagojevich get back on his feet by giving him a job in his administration.

As bad as he is, Blagojevich has more experience in government than most Trump cabinet members.

And as for the moral impact on this Administration, it’s a wash.

# # #

McBarronBlog Bonus Links

CapitolFax: Blagojevich again attempts to rewrite history

Life, in particular: Throw Away the Key

VIDEO: A man who never takes responsibility tries to get Rod Blagojevich to take responsibility.









Al Franken decade ends ironically


Minnesota Senator Al Franken is toast.

When good liberals like Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, who aren’t facing an election next year, call for you to go, its because they know you’re already planning to leave.

Viewed from a distance, Franken’s impending resignation could be considered darkly, ironically humorous.

Franken is about to be cast out of “The worlds greatest deliberative body” at the same time the US Senate appears about to welcome a man who probably is a child molester and who you definitely would not want to “watch” your daughter while you run into the courthouse.

Hey, I said it was dark.

Leigh Corfman, now 53, said she met Moore outside an Alabama courthouse in 1979. She was with her mother, Nancy Wells, who was attending a child custody hearing. Moore offered to watch Corfman while her mother went inside. The two chatted, and Moore asked if he could call her sometime. Corfman gave him her phone number, she says, and the two made plans to meet. Moore picked her up around the corner from her house and drove her to his home:

Roy Moore, a man accused of having a sexual encounter with a 14 year old girl, and accused of other predatory acts against older teenagers and young women, is poised to be elected to the US Senate from Alabama. This is the same man who, TWICE, was removed from the bench in his home state for his failure to uphold the US Constitution.

For the unanimous members of the Alabama Court of Judiciary that ousted him from the bench — twice — it was not Moore’s substantive views but his sheer lack of integrity and impartiality. In a 50-page final judgment against him last year, phrases like “grossly inconsistent with his duties” and “incomplete, misleading and manipulative” leap out.

Yet, despite what his home state jurists think of him, Alabama voters are likely to make Roy Moore a Senator while Al Franken, for the foreseeable future, will be a pariah.

Franken is far from blameless. While working as a comedian in 2006, Franken posed for a photo that came to light at the very moment when the country’s consciousness was being awakened about the way men have mistreated women in workplaces from the time women were allowed in workplaces.


Juvenile. Idiotic. Embarrassing. Damaging beyond repair.

Another irony is that Franken has a laudable record as an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and likely sees the attention being paid to the issue of sexual harassment as a good thing for women and for the country. Which it no doubt is.

Whether you think it’s fair or not that Franken receives the political death penalty, it’s clear his continued presence in the Senate, at a time when new charges, all of them far less serious than those made against Moore, are being made against him, makes the Democrats look hypocritical if they tolerate Franken while opposing Moore.

If decency mattered in politics, Roy Moore would have folded his tent when he was unable to convincingly deny to Sean Hannity that he, as a man in his 30s, had a thing for young teenage girls.

If decency mattered, the country would be not be led by a man who was caught bragging about sexually assaulting young women and who remains accused of assault by at least a dozen women.

Franken could do do what Moore and Trump have done: refuse to listen to supporters who find the whole business unacceptably tawdry and just stick it out.

Bill Clinton left office with a 65 percent approval rating, about 28 points higher than the approval number for the current president. It seems time heals, if you have the stomach for it.

Al Franken was a good Senator who spoke up for people who couldn’t speak for themselves.

His unique combination of intelligence and humor made him a formidable opponent for the current administration which, with each passing day, behaves outrageously to the point it’s almost impossible to satirize. A world-class satirist could have been a perfect opponent for this White House.

Decades ago, Franken had a recurring bit on Saturday Night Live about the 1980s being the “Al Franken Decade.”

Ironically, not long ago, the decade we currently are in looked like it might become the Franken Decade for real. His unusual life story, his success as a Senator and his ability to use his show business past and his natural intelligence to communicate on a variety of issues seemed to make him a perfect politician for the era of Trump.

There were even people talking about Franken for President in 2020.

That’s not going to happen. Al Franken is about to exit the political stage. Will he have a third act?

More importantly, who is going to step up to articulate important issues and stop the erosion of democracy that Donald Trump seems intent on completing?