In a shocking performance at a Washington, D.C. gala, New Hampshire’s Republican Governor told the f___ing truth.
Due to its unexpected nature, the event made headlines around the world—which, given Governor Sununu’s political ambitions, was likely his intent.
Typically, when he’s back home among the
Chris Sununu presents a folksy, more wholesome image. On Saturday evening’s
Gridiron Dinner, though, before 600 Washington insiders in formal evening wear,
he was exceptionally foul-mouthed. Rep. Jamie Raskin [D–Md.], quoted in the Washington Post, said he had not heard a
“Republican use the F-word that much since the Nixon administration.”
The Gridiron Dinner is an annual celebration of the unwarranted self-esteem shared by Washington insiders and the journalists who supposedly report on them with ruthless impartiality. The event is a held every March, in years without a pandemic. True, there is a pandemic this year. However, by mutual agreement among politicians and journalists who matter, that is no longer a matter of any concern.
The most coherent account we could find of the Governor’s obscene remarks was published in Politico’s Playbook. Apparently the Governor set up his audience by saying Trump was “probably going to be the next president” and referring to his tweets with neutral euphemisms. Then, as “the room quieted to see where he was going with this, he paused, then yelled: ‘Nah, I’m just kidding! He’s F___ING CRAZY!’ The ballroom roared with laughter.”
The Governor went on to say, “The press often will ask me if I think Donald Trump is crazy. And I’ll say it this way: I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution. But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!”
Having reaped a weekend’s worth of free publicity from his vulgar stand-up act, Sununu flip-flopped. During a radio interview Monday morning he code-switched, going from comedian to gaslighter. Sununu told WGIR’s Chris Ryan, “It’s all a joke. Look. I don’t think he’s crazy…. Anyone who is trying to make this anymore than it is doesn’t understand what the Gridiron Dinner is all about.”
In other words, anyone who believed him when he told the truth would have to be a simpleton.
This is state-of-the-art political alchemy in action: now you see it, now you don’t. What does anything mean? Everything and nothing.
Apparently this brand of chicanery amps up the Republican base while driving away all others. If it wasn’t working, they wouldn’t do it. So what if it turns the political landscape into a toxic morass? Better to be King of the Dung Heap than just another citizen.
This guy bears watching.
What does Sununu really think about the cognitive status of Dolt #45? We’ll take him at his word on Saturday night. Now that we know what the Governor knows, we’d like to know when he first knew it. Perhaps some other journalist, one with enough access to get his ear, would ask him for us.
Our best guess is February 9th. According to Michael Warren Davis, writing in The Spectator World—the online U.S. edition of what claims to be “The World’s Oldest Magazine”—that was when “Corey Lewandowski took to the airwaves with a bizarre announcement: Donald Trump is looking for someone to primary New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu.
Davis wrote that “Lewandowski, who briefly ran Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was speaking to Boston radio host Howie Carr. ‘The president is very unhappy with the chief executive of the state of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. … And Sununu, in the president’s estimation, is someone who’s never been loyal to him. And the president said it would be really great if somebody would run against him.”
An Experiment in Free Thought
The Governor’s recent example got us to thinking about the power of simply stating rarely-spoken truths. Sununu, in D.C., was picking quite a low-hanging piece of rotten fruit. Let’s see if the principle holds true with something from up higher up in the tree: the Sancitity of the Ballot.
In every editorial department of the nation’s surviving newspapers, it is a fundamental principle that every eligible citizen damn well ought to vote. If they don’t, they should feel ashamed for having neglected a civic duty. What’s more, the thinking goes, they have forfeited their right to express any opinions about the status quo. A journalist daring to question this dogma in print would be putting in jeopardy what might once have been a potentially promising career. [Nowadays, of course, every career in journalism is doomed, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.]
Thanks to our seniority—and the utter absence of any rosier prospects—we are immune to any such threats; thus it is our duty to raise them. We can well imagine how, under present circumstances, some people might abstain from voting in order to avoid feeling ashamed.
How many times can a person take part in an apparently hollow ritual without developing the suspicion that he’s being taken for a chump? After a while, particularly for the sufficiently downtrodden, why shouldn’t voting feel like walking up to a schoolyard bully and saying, “Go ahead, hit me.”
We do not advocate abandoning the electoral process—far from it. Vote with a vengeance, we say. The question is how that might be accomplished.
We’re just pointing out that in a system which forces students into debt while allowing the wealthy to dodge taxes, where hedge-fund jockeys can buy up whole neighborhoods and jack up the rents, where an entire industry exists just to deny medical care, and politicians are too feckless to change a damned thing, it’s ironic that members of the Gridiron Club are still paid big bucks for cranking out boilerplate paeans to the wonders of democracy.
Meanwhile, bitter screeds which harp on the limitations of voting within the current system are confined by market forces to certain ancient and obscure venues, where they will be read only by true cognoscenti.
More Truth From an Unlikely Source
Having delivered ourselves of, and subjected readers to, the intemperate tirade above, we have a reward—a footnote from a white paper by Jeremy B. Rudd, published last year by the Federal Reserve System.*
“Mainstream economics is replete with ideas that ‘everyone knows to be true, but that are actually arrant nonsense. For example, ‘everyone knows’ … [Deleted here: three examples comprehensible only to those fluent in the argot of ‘the dismal science.’ – The Ed.]
“None of these propositions has any sort of empirical foundation; moreover, each one turns out to be seriously deficient on theoretical grounds.… Nevertheless, economists continue to rely on these and similar ideas to organize their thinking about real-world economic phenomena. …
“Is this state of affairs ever harmful or dangerous? One natural source of concern is if dubious but widely held ideas serve as the basis for consequential policy decisions.”
It is at this juncture that Rudd inserts the following footnote:
“I leave aside the deeper concern that the primary role of mainstream economics in our society is to provide an apologetics for a criminally oppressive, unsustainable, and unjust social order.”
London-based economist Chris Marsh tweeted March 18th, “6 months since the famous Fed paper by Jeremy Rudd, and yet he’s not been heard of since.”
The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building is quite commodious. Perhaps there’s an oubliette somewhere on the premises.
* “Why Do We Think That Inflation Expectations Matter for Inflation?” (And Should We?), by Jeremy B. Rudd. https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/feds/why-do-we-think-that-inflation-expectations-matter-for-Inflation-and-should-we.htm. Rudd is Senior Adviser to the Program Direction Section of the Fed’s Division of Research and Statistics. He’s got a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton and an A.B. in Economics from Harvard, so he’s not just some upstart.
Aid Groups Warn More Variants Will Emerge If Congress Kills Global Covid Funds
by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams
An international coalition of humanitarian groups warned Tuesday that “more variants will emerge” if Congress fails to approve new money for the global coronavirus response, a message delivered after senators announced a Covid-19 funding package without any money to fight the pandemic beyond the borders of the United States.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Senate’s short-sighted decision to cut off all global Covid funds.”
“Until we commit to providing the necessary resources to combat Covid-19 globally,” reads a joint statement signed by the ONE Campaign, Save the Children, Oxfam America, Public Citizen, and dozens of other groups, “more people will contract the virus and the death toll will continue to rise.”
The humanitarian coalition noted that U.S. federal agencies responsible for global relief “are running out of funds,” echoing the concerns of the agencies themselves. For months, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been sounding the alarm over dwindling money for its global vaccination efforts.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, is overflowing with money—and lawmakers are currently mulling whether to pile even more funds into the department’s coffers.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Senate’s short-sighted decision to cut off all global Covid funds,” the aid groups said Tuesday. “If passed, this package would send the signal that Congress has not only turned its back on the rest of the world, but it risked the safety and security of the American people and contributed to prolonging the pandemic.
The coalition released its statement after key senators’ announced Monday that they reached a deal on a $10 billion coronavirus funding package aimed at helping the U.S. purchase additional coronavirus test kits, therapeutics, and vaccines amid growing fears of a new wave of infections.
“Without global vaccination funding, we are simply not tackling the problem of Covid.”
The proposed legislative package, which would be funded largely by repurposing previously approved pandemic response money, contains $10 billion total, less than half of the $22 billion in coronavirus aid that the Biden administration has requested to keep domestic Covid-19 programs afloat.
As the New York Times reported late Monday, the legislation “does not include $5 billion in funding for the global vaccination effort that had previously been proposed, after senators spent the weekend haggling over a Republican demand to claw back money Congress previously approved.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech Tuesday that he is “disappointed that some of our Republican friends could not agree to include $5 billion for global response efforts.”
Schumer nevertheless urged Congress to quickly approve the $10 billion package, arguing that it “will give the federal government—and our citizens—the tools we need, that we depend on, to continue our economic recovery, to keep schools open, keep American families safe.”
The Senate majority leader said the legislation as crafted has the support of President Joe Biden.
But the bill, negotiated principally by top Senate Democrats and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), could face trouble in the House, where progressive lawmakers have warned they may oppose any Covid-19 funding measure that lacks adequate money for the global pandemic response.
“My position has not changed,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) tweeted Monday afternoon. “If the Senate cuts global vaccine funding from the Covid supplemental bill, we will have a big problem in the House.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, similarly declared Monday that “a deal without global aid funding and a real plan to invest the money we need will run into problems in the House.”
“I have said this for months and will say it again,” Jayapal wrote on Twitter. “Without global vaccination funding, we are simply not tackling the problem of Covid.”
Lawmakers’ haggling over several billion in critical global coronavirus aid is taking place as Congress also debates Biden’s request to add $31 billion to the U.S. military budget next fiscal year, bringing the total to an unprecedented $813 billion.
As Politico reported Tuesday, “Debate is heating up on Capitol Hill on funding the military, and Democrats are facing a dilemma—back President Joe Biden’s historically high Pentagon budget or spend even more.”
“This is insane,” responded Matt Duss, a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has criticized the president’s latest Pentagon budget request.
“Meanwhile, Congress is having a hard time finding $5 billion for the global Covid response, a genuinely urgent national security priority which would also offer a huge boost to U.S. diplomacy,” Duss added. “Unfortunately the poor of the Global South employ fewer lobbyists.”
“Vote Early And Vote Often”
Judging by an AP report, it appears that GOP Congressional candidate Matt Mowers has cribbed the 19th century Democratic rallying cry quoted above.
The wire service says Mowers voted twice in 2016: first by absentee ballot in New Hampshire’s First in the Nation™ Presidential Primary Election,® when he was running Chris Christie’s failed primary campaign. Then he voted again back home in New Jersey, registering under his parents’ address.
“Mowers’ campaign website features a section dedicated to ‘election integrity,’” AP noted, “stating that new laws are needed to ‘provide every American citizen with the certainty that their vote counts.’
“He also echoes the long-standing Republican criticism about out-of-state voters, endorsing an efforts by the state’s legislature to make sure ‘only legal residents of New Hampshire are entitled to vote.’”