Pop Goes The Political Culture Week of June 25

Sculptural depiction of Rebekah’s mood. Or really Medusa with the head of Perseus, by Luciano Garbati, 2008.

By Rebekah Kuschmider, MPU co-host

The United States of Liberal America is kind of on fire this week and we at the More Perfect Union are also on fire. The news about Anthony Kennedy retiring has caused yours truly to turn into a raging prochoice feminist gorgon who wants to turn MAGA Twitter trolls to stone. DJ is bashing his head against the wall over news that Trump is considering leaving the World Trade Organization. Kevin is on the ground with his local House candidate trying to flip a swing district. And Greg is playing his saxophone.

Greg is also a generally happier person than Kevin, DJ and I.

We’ll be convening to discuss this week’s hard news tomorrow night but until then, here’s the news that’s not fit to ‘cast!

Keep Sweet: I have a mild obsession with fringe religions. The FLDS, the Quiverfull movement, Scientology, if it’s a religion from which people need to literally escape, I have probably read a memoir by an escapee.

Many fringe religions dictate rigid gender roles based on the most classical definition of patriarchy: that men are closer to their conception of god and, therefore, women must submit to the will of men in all cases. Women coming out of these communities will talk about their constant struggle to adhere to this principle, fighting their own sense of self-preservation or common sense to do what men tell them. When they ask for help or advice from clergy or family members, they’re admonished not to antagonize the men in their lives.

In the world of the FLDS, the phrase for this is “keep sweet”. It was originally meant as an attitude all church members were supposed to aspire to in order to be closer to their god but in modern times, it’s meant to remind women to “keep sweet” to the men in their lives and not argue with them in any way. They’re told that failing to submit to the authority of the guys telling them to keep sweet can result in punishment in both this life and the afterlife.

Experts in psychology will also tell you that this is a line of reasoning used by abusers as well. They tell their victims that the victims just need to be nicer if they want to stop the abuse.

Why am I talking about this? Because every damn mention of civility this week has sounded like “Keep sweet” to me. Like some higher authoritarian leader is telling me not to engage in dissent because it antagonizes the powerful who are then entitled to heap abuse on my un-sweet head and I will deserve it for being so unsubmissive to them in the first place.

Fuck. That. Noise.

Dissent is a constitutionally approved tool of the political minority in this country. All of us are entitled to voice our dissent without editing ourselves in the process. There is room for passion and swearing as well as room for the coldest and most clinical of analysis. Anyone telling you to change your methods of dissent is telling you to keep sweet because it serves their purposes, not because it will serve your own.

Fight the power in your own words. Civility not required.

He Who Laughs Last: In classic bully form, Trump has been out trying to hurt feelings and gin up anti-media sentiment at various campaign rallies. The late night hosts have gotten a share of his ire. Unlike the leadership of the GOP, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien aren’t afraid of the Small Fingered Vulgarian in Chief. The three of them teamed up to make a video that basically says “Trump who?” and reminds us that sometimes it really is important to laugh it off.

Trivia: For everyone who followed the Red Hen saga and asked “Will this lead to every restaurant in DC asking for your voter registration info before letting you have a table?”, have no fear! Anyone of any political stripe can get a table in the nation’s capitol because there’s a law on the local books prohibiting restaurant owners from refusing patrons service. The District of Columbia considers political affiliation a protected class, just like gender, race, religion and sexuality. So you can wear a MAGA hat into any DC eatery and get a table and a meal. Whether or not you get a side of saliva added to it remains to be seen. There are a lot of immigrants, people of color, women, and LGBTQA folks working in restaurants in this town so be forewarned.

Anchor Babies: The Republican party has long been looking to limit immigration of all kinds. Their latest tactic is putting babies in internment camps but that’s not the first time babies have been on their radar. A few years ago, they railed against “anchor babies”, suggesting that pregnant were coming into the US to give birth so their child would be granted birthright citizenship and the whole family would have a stronger immigration claim. Trump himself raged against these actions saying“We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell.”

He’s dropped the anchor baby talk to complain about chain migration instead – he does love a good buzzword – but that doesn’t mean anchor babies aren’t a real thing, as the Washington Post reported this week:

While Trump rails against U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, his Florida properties have become a playground for birth tourists from Russia’s upper crust. The Daily Beast has discovered several companies are advertising rentals in Trump properties to expectant Russian parents. While the Trump Organization does not directly profit from subleases of privately owned condos, it does benefit from Russian patronage of the nearby Trump International Beach Resort. (The Trump Organization did not return requests comment.)

I would say we should expect to hear a xenophobic screed about this on Trump’s Twitter feed but if you replace “Russian” with “Croatian”, this is kind of like Melania’s story. She took it a step further and married the owner of a Trump Property but not everyone is willing to sacrifice their dignity that way.

Tune in Monday when we drop the new podcast episode so you can hear all the real debate without the ha…oh, who am I kidding? We’ll be hating on the news like it’s out job. Don’t miss it!


The More Perfect Union Promo: “See You Next Tuesday”

Listen to the full episode here

Pop Goes The Political Culture Week of May 21

By Rebekah Kuschmider, MPU co-host

It’s been a revealing week in American politics. The Justice Department has revealed information to the White House. The Wall Street Journal revealed emails from Roger Stone to Julian Assange. And Harvey Weinstein probably revealed a lot of bodily cavities when he turned himself in to law enforcement and they booked him on sexual assault charges.

The MPU crew is studying all these revelations (except the Weinstein cavity search stuff. Ew.) and we’ll bring you our take on it in a few days. For now, here’s all the news thats not fit to ‘cast!

The Star Spangled Blunder: Today the NFL decided that the issue of players kneeling during the national anthem required final and decisive action. They declared that all players on the sidelines must stand for the anthem but players are not required to be on the sidelines during the anthem.

I have questions.

Can there be cameras in the locker room filming the players there during the anthem? Can the players livestream themselves on social media at that time? Can players take a knee at other moments, like during the coin flip?

And is anyone else  troubled by the notion of really, really wealthy white people dictating what men of color are or aren’t allowed to do with their bodies? Particularly when the bodies of men of color are so political just by the fact of their very existence?

A post shared by colin kaepernick (@kaepernick7) on

Not to mention the way the owners are fine with players committing assault off the field but are folding like a house of cards over outrage over a peaceful gesture.

I love watching the sport of football but the business of football is making more uncomfortable with each passing year. The dangers to the players on the field, the behavior of certain players off the field, the racist name of the Washington team going unchallenged, and this kerfuffle over a silent gesture one man initiated is all souring me on the league as a whole.

Learn Her Name, See Her Face: If you visit the National Portrait Gallery in DC this summer, take a moment to visit one of the pioneers of modern medicine. She never went to medical school, she never studied science, but she has saved countless lives for over a century and is only now being recognized.

Henrietta Lacks is a woman from Baltimore who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. Unbeknownst to her or her family, cells from a biopsy taken of her cancer became immortal. The line of endlessly replicating cells serves as a basis for much of medical research. Generations of scientists have tested new treatments on HeLa cells as part of standard research protocols.

A post shared by National Portrait Gallery (@smithsoniannpg) on

But hardly anyone even knew her name until journalist Rebecca Skloot wrote The Immortal Life If Henrietta Lacks in 2011.

The book was an unlikely best-seller and shined a light on issues of consent in medicine, as well as recognizing an unsung heroine of modern medicine.

Now a portrait of Mrs. Lacks will be on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery until November 4. It seems fitting that she should have a place among the faces of the greatest Americans in history. We all owe her so much.

Tweet Louder, Bro: A judge ruled that Trump cannot block people on Twitter because it subverts the guaranteed right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievances. Trump uses Twitter as a venue for communication with the public; he’s not allowed to cut parts of the public off just because they, for example, called him Fuckface von Clownstick in 2013. Blocking people for that, or any reason, denies them access to petition him for redress of grievances  and he can’t do it any more.

I talked about that very First Amendment issue right after the election so I feel awfully smart. Fuckface von Clownstick should appoint me to the bench.

Next Stop, DC:  The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have made indelible marks on our culture in the wake of the shooting that took the lives of 17 of their classmates. The young people have impressed the world with their articulate and organized approach to advocating for changes to US gun laws. On social media, on television, and on the streets of DC in March, these students have breathed new life and new hope into a gun violence prevention movement that was floundering in despair.

A post shared by Emma González (@emmawise18) on

Now, they are being invited to take their skills to the Hill. House Democrats are working to extend an invitation to Parkland students to come intern in Congressional offices and learn, up close and personal, what lawmaking looks like.

Hill internships are not glamorous, mind you. It’s a lot of answering phone and copying briefing materials. But interns get to work with legislators and their staff, learning about different issue areas, and how to effect change through legislation and advocacy. They also get access to a lot of receptions where there’s free food, which doesn’t make up for the fact that internships are unpaid but is still a nice perk.

I hope some of the students are able to come to DC this summer. The Hill could use their spirit.

There will be lots more to to discuss when we record our next episode. Meanwhile, enjoy the long weekend, everyone!

An Interview* with President Trump

by Kevin Kelton

* EDITOR’S NOTE: The More Perfect Union podcast reached out to the White House requesting an interview with President Donald J. Trump. They never got back to us. So we went ahead and held our own sit-down with the President, answering how we believe he would if he were being totally open and candid, as he reportedly is with friends.  This freewheeling hypothetical interview was held in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, just moments ago.

Interviewer: Good morning, Mr. President. Thanks for sitting down with us today.

President Trump: No problem. Can they get you anything? Coffee? Diet Coke?

Interviewer: No, thank you. I want to start off with a look at the office of the presidency itself, and your feelings about the job so far. You made some veiled references at a rally recently about being president for life. I assume only in jest–

Trump: Yes. If you look at the tape, I was clearly joking for the crowd, and they loved it. Although, my poll numbers are up, so…  (The President makes a hand-weighing gesture.)

Interviewer: Would you be interested in serving for more than two terms if it was possible?

President Trump: Well, I’m going to be here for two terms, that I promise. Who are they gonna put up? Biden? No contest. I’ll do to him what I did to Kasich and Jeb. Sanders? A little tougher, but I’d brand him as “Comrad Bernie” or “Commie Bernie” – I haven’t decided yet – and slowly increase his negatives to the point where no one but far left liberals would vote for him. Warren, Gillibrand or Harris in California? Please! Bring them on. That’s a wet dream for me.

Interviewer: But as for a third term–

President Trump: Yes, 2024. Not out of the question. If we hold the House in November, we’re looking at some kind of legislation we could send up now about changing the 22nd Amendment after 2020. Everybody on staff says you can’t make it for the current president, that it has to be retroactive…for future presidents. But we’re looking at a couple of ways around that. Then the American people could decide who they want and who they don’t, not some ridiculous amendment that was meant to retire a Roosevelt before he went senile. You know, they tried to pass it while he was in office, but he blocked it.

Interviewer: Uh, actually, that’s not correct. The 22nd Amendment was passed–

President Trump: Yeah, under Truman, I know. But some people were talking about it while FDR was alive. He was a physical mess. Reagan, too. You can’t be doing this job in your 80s. That’s why Sanders and Biden are a joke. Judges, maybe. Although Ginsberg, she’s long past her do-not-sell date. You want that with her finger on the button? 

As for a third term, I haven’t ruled it out. But what I prefer is to see Ivanka run. She should be the first woman president. She’d be great, don’t you think? So what I envision is her in 2024, with me as a president emeritus of sorts. You know, there when she needs me, but not trapped in the White House 24/7. Or if I ran again, maybe some kind of hybrid “senior presidency” where I could work out of my homes and leave the day-to-day stuff to someone else.

Interviewer: Like a part-time presidency?

President Trump: No, you probably couldn’t do this part-time. But you certainly don’t have to spend your entire day on it. That’s the old paradigm. You know, the Founders, they didn’t envision full-time government service. It was supposed to be, you serve your country, then you go on and make some money for yourself. Not this career politician thing we have now. What kind of loser wants to spend his life doing this? I wouldn’t trust anyone who doesn’t believe in capitalism. You do your time, salute the flag, then move on and build an empire. Me, I built mine first. But the idea is the same. 

Interviewer: Yes, but I think what you’re referring to is the concept of term limits and citizen representation. Not a part-time commander-in-chief.

President Trump: You brought it up. There’s lots of mayors – local mayors – who do the job part-time. I’m not saying I’d be part-time, mind you. Just, you don’t have to be 24/7. That’s the swamp talking. I do some of my best work at Mar-a-Lago. Even on the golf course, I’m taking calls, working deals. I don’t need to be locked in public housing in DC to do the job. Einsenhower got it. Moved to Camp David. It’s named after his kid, you know. David Eisenhower. At least, that was the cover story. Ike’s real name was Dwight David Einsenhower, you know, so some people say he really named it after himself. But they make fun of me for the name, Trump Tower. Camp David, Cape Kennedy, they all did it. That’s the part the fake news never tells you. Before that, FDR called Camp David “Shangri-La.” Did you know that? People make fun of the name, Mar-a-Lago, like it’s some elitist thing, but FDR called his second presidential home Shangri-La. Can you imagine? Mar-a-Lago is my Camp David. Better. Have you seen Camp David lately? A dump.

Interviewer: Uh, I think the name Cape Kennedy was changed after…

President Trump: Back to Canaveral, I know. Horrible thing to do to him. I have to look into that.

Interviewer: Moving on… You talked about the Founding Fathers, who I know you have admiration for. 

President Trump: Great people. Real patriots. Hamilton, I think, would’ve made a lot of money today. First Treasury Secretary. He set this whole deal up. He thought like a capitalist. Good man.

Interviewer: You also mentioned Presidents Kennedy, Eisenhower and Roosevelt. What is it like to know you are now in the company of those great men?

President Trump: It feels right. Honestly, I always felt I was in their company, to use your phrase. Kennedy? A big myth. His father created that whole deal. Bought him into Harvard. Bright guy, but nothing special. My dad knew his father. He set that whole deal up, Camelot – after Joe died in that plane crash. He was supposed to be president. John was just a playboy. They make a big deal outta my affairs, but John! He was humping German spies. There were no special counsels about that, I can tell you. Back then they knew, public was public and your private life was private. Ben Bradley got it. Not like this Bezos character. You didn’t have this phony morality you do these days. Fake morality from the fake media. They loved JFK, but they never investigated him like this. It’s ridiculous. FDR, Ike, Johnson, Bush one – they all had their infidelities. I’m sure Lincoln did too, with that crazy woman Mary Lincoln Todd at home hocking him every day. Imagine being married to that one! 

Interviewer: Mary Todd Lincoln.

President Trump: Right. Certified insane woman, you know. Like Maxine Waters, but worse. Used to wander the halls of the White House, talking to the portraits of the presidents. Total loon.

Interviewer: Uh… I think you might be conflating her with Richard Nixon.

President Trump: Both of them. Total nutcases. Not in his first term. Nixon was sharp, more than the fake media gives him credit for. That deal with the Chinese? That’s what I’m shooting for. Real Nobel Prize stuff. My dad knew him. But his second term, when they tried to hound him out of office? That’d drive anyone crazy. They appoint these prosecutors and give them carte blanche to look into anything they want, from decades back. His mistake was playing along. Should’a just burned the tapes. I said that then. He should have just stonewalled it and fought back. You never admit you’re wrong. Never give up. He was a weak man ultimately. With the drinking. I never touch the stuff. Not a drop. Fred, my late brother, that’s what killed him. Liquor is for weak men. I taught my kids that. And you see how they turned out.

But that whole deal about those other presidents being so great and all? Big myth; fake news! I’m in their league. Maybe more so, ’cause look what I did before being president. You think Kennedy or Ike could have built a private empire like that? FDR? Gimme a break. Joe Kennedy did, but he never had the balls to run. Left that for his kids. Not me. Fifty years from now school kids will be reading and learning about me, I promise you. I’ll be their JFK. Only better ’cause I won’t have been shot.

NEXT: An Interview* with President Trump, PART 2 – POLICY ISSUES

Kevin Kelton is a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast and founder of Open Fire Politics on Facebook.

Trump’s Trade War: Part III

by D.J. McGuire 

A new casualty in Trump’s Trade War has become the most visible. Thankfully (for him, not for us), the victim (Boeing) is hardly sympathetic, but that doesn’t make the damage any less real.

Read More

More Perfect Union – Gun Debate Segment

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This is an excerpt from The More Perfect Union podcast that covered the Las Vegas shooting and our discussion of guns in America.

Click here to listen

Trump’s Trade War

by D.J. McGuire

Over the eight months and change of the Trump Administration, two of his closest allies – both geopolitically and personally – have been Justin Trudeau and Theresa May, Prime Ministers of Canada and the United Kingdom, respectively.

This week, the Trump Administration declared a trade war on both of them – and the Democrats are practically silent. Between Trump’s economic ignorance and the opposition’s political malpractice, we’re in for a very bumpy ride.

Sanders’ Voters Are Not the Key to a Democratic Majority in the 2020s

by D.J. McGuire

Kevin Kelton is not just my collaborator on the More Perfect Union Podcast, he is also a friend. So it should not surprise anyone that I highly recommend the cyber-gauntlet he throws at Bernie Sanders supporters for 2018. I do think, however, that Kevin will be disappointed (although not surprised) to find that Sanders voters won’t tip the balance for the Democrats in 2018. On the plus side, once the lesson is learned, the Democrats can start reaching out to the center-right voters that are actually able and willing to help them build a majority coalition in the 2020s.

Read More

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