The Road Taken

Life is full of regrets, or at least wistful speculation. There’s that fork in the road. Choose one way or the other, but know that once you move on, there’s no going back – and you must move on. But one way forward seems well-trodden. The other no one seems to have used. Go the way everyone before you seems to have gone? Take the road less-travelled? Which will it be? Robert Frost wrote a famous poem about this – where the narrator took the road “less traveled by” and “that made all the difference” with its hints of independence and self-actualization and self-respect and all the rest. That’s fine, but that’s a poem. Choosing, at eighteen, to run off and join the circus, or a rock band, doesn’t work out well for most people. There’s usually a reason people don’t take that other road. Bad things happen down that road.

Frost, of course, was tapping into that rebellious American attitude where we long to do whatever the hell we want to do – damn the consequences – and say whatever we want to say, no matter what anyone else thinks. That’s freedom, right? I can wave my Confederate flag in your black face and sneer. I can say Jesus hates you because you’re gay. You can call me a fascist pig. The rules of polite discourse are for fools – or for those folks that took that other road that Robert Frost mentioned. Real Americans let it rip – they’re loud, crude, and rude, and they don’t give a damn about your precious feelings. Political correctness isn’t American in the slightest. Screw that. If you’re offended, you ought to be offended. You should probably be taken out back and shot.

No one actually lives their life like that – people tend to avoid loud quarrelsome jerks with a chip on their shoulder so you’ll be pretty lonely – but if you’re running for office, this is not a bad pose to assume. Become the truth-teller who says it like it is and doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. This has worked wonders for Donald Trump, who doesn’t give a damn about the precious feelings of Hispanic-Americans. He says they all love him anyway – those who aren’t rapists or murderers or drug dealers. They don’t want any more Mexicans showing up here either. They know he’s right about those nasty and dangerous folks who slip across our border.

Donald Trump may be wrong about that, but that hasn’t stopped Mike Huckabee from striking a similar pose:

Mike Huckabee is not backing away from his strident criticism of President Barack Obama and the Iranian nuclear deal – even as his fellow Republican presidential candidates distance themselves from his remarks.

A day after making an explicit comparison to the Holocaust in denouncing the agreement, the former Arkansas governor continued to make his case on Twitter.

In an earlier interview with Breitbart News published Saturday, Huckabee said that Obama is “naive” in trusting Iran to uphold its part of the deal. “By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

Obama is Hitler. He wants to exterminate the Jews. How else can you read this? Huckabee simply had the courage to say this. He took that other road, but he got slapped down:

The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors anti-Semitism, immediately denounced Huckabee’s language.

“Whatever one’s views of the nuclear agreement with Iran – and we have been critical of it, noting that there are serious unanswered questions that need to be addressed – comments such as those by Mike Huckabee suggesting the president is leading Israel to another Holocaust are completely out of line and unacceptable,” ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening.”

But Huckabee didn’t back down.

“Tell Congress to do their constitutional duty & reject the Obama-Kerry #IranDeal,” he tweeted on Sunday, along with a graphic repeating his controversial comments.

He couldn’t back down. That would be politically correct, and that wouldn’t be American at all. Huckabee may not be rich, but he’s as much as a truth-teller as Trump, and he has his has way of saying things, even if it offends others. This item notes that in 2007, the ADL asked Huckabee to stop referring to the “holocaust of liberalized abortion” – and he didn’t stop. That’s why he beat John McCain in the primaries and beat Barack Obama in the general election. No, wait…

This didn’t go well:

Speaking before reporters in Ethiopia on Monday, Obama called the remark part of a pattern of comments “that would be considered ridiculous if it wasn’t so sad.”

“Maybe it’s just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines,” he added.

When asked whether or not Donald Trump finds with Huckabee’s rhetoric offensive, Michael Cohen, the executive vice president of Trump’s campaign, told CNN, “I don’t think so.”

“I’m not offended by the words, and I lost 90 percent of my family at that point,” Cohen, who is Jewish, added.

In short, the Trump camp agrees that Obama is, functionally, Hitler, and Huckabee had his say too:

“What’s ‘ridiculous and sad’ is that President Obama does not take Iran’s repeated threats seriously. For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust,'” the Republican candidate said.

“‘Never again’ will be the policy of my administration and I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust,” he added.

Huckabee later sent the same message to supporters in a fundraising appeal.

Of course he did, but others saw a loud quarrelsome jerk with a chip on his shoulder:

Speaking at an event for pastors in the Orlando area, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the Iran deal “horrific,” but added that “we need to tone down the rhetoric, for sure.”

Acknowledging that he respects Huckabee, Bush said using “that kind of language” is “just wrong.”

“This is not the way we’re going to win elections. That’s not how we’re going to solve problems,” he added.

And on the other side:

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton called Huckabee’s comments “offensive” and over the line.

“Comments like these are offensive and have no place in our political dialogue. I am disappointed and I am really offended personally,” Clinton said at an event in Des Moines, Iowa. “I know Governor Huckabee. I have a cordial relationship with him. He served as governor of Arkansas. But I find this kind of inflammatory rhetoric totally unacceptable.”

Huckabee fired back: “You finally come out of hiding to attack me for defending Israel?” he tweeted. “What’s ‘unacceptable’ is a mushroom cloud over Israel.”

Say what? Huckabee certainly has taken the road less-travelled here – even American Jews are offended – but perhaps there’s something else going on. He wants to show his party how to win the Jewish vote, something they probably haven’t done since the Hoover administration. Obama is Hitler, leading the Jews to the gas chambers. Republicans are their saviors. This should work, except these people aren’t cooperating:

GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal will “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the deal’s preeminent opponent – but according to a rare national survey conducted in the wake of the agreement, a plurality of American Jews support the new Iran nuclear deal.

The LA Jewish Journal survey released Thursday found that 48 percent of Jews support the deal while 28 percent oppose it and 25 percent hadn’t heard enough to form an opinion. The survey described key parts of the deal, which lifts major economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons.

Jewish support for the deal was 20 percentage points higher than for Americans overall, according to a side-by-side poll of the general public. A separate question found 54 percent of Jews saying Congress should approve the deal, while 35 percent want Congress to block it.

They want the deal more than everyone else, and there are lots of ways to see this, but this may be a case of this deal being better than no deal at all, and war. Also, Benjamin Netanyahu is generally seen, here, as a loud quarrelsome jerk. And then there’s Rabbi David Wolpe directly addressing Huckabee:

I have made my opposition to the deal well-known, but when a former Mossad chief, as well as various other Israeli intelligence professionals, support the deal, along with about half of all American Jews, do we need to imply that those who negotiated it are the SS? No one with a strong argument has to reach for rhetorical nuclear weapons.

Don’t go down that road, please? Give us an argument.

That’s not what Republican do now. Joe Trippi, who ran Howard Dean’s campaign for president way back when, reminds us how saying what they feel like saying and doing what they feel like doing, of taking the wrong fork in the road, has tripped them up:

On the question of immigration, The Republican Party is at a crossroads. The party could take the Jeb Bush approach. “The way I look at this,” Bush said last year, “is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families – the dad who loved their children – was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table…. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.”

Or the party could imitate Donald Trump, who exploded into the presidential race with these inflammatory words: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He then added: “And some, I assume, are good people.”

We’ve been here before:

In 1994, two future GOP presidential hopefuls, Pete Wilson of California and George W. Bush of Texas, formed near-opposite relationships with the Latino community. Their fates, and the fates of their state parties, should tell the national GOP everything it needs to know about how best to handle immigration.


Twenty-one years ago, California was a swing state that leaned GOP. It had voted Republican in six of the last seven presidential elections and sent two of the last six presidents, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, to the White House. Wilson’s 1994 reelection marked the fourth straight time the GOP won the governor’s mansion.

Now California is overwhelmingly Democratic. What happened? Among other factors, Wilson made the unfortunate decision to support Proposition 187.

Today no Republican holds elected statewide office in California, and Democrats hold a nearly 2-to-1 majority over Republicans in both the state Senate and the Assembly.

Proposition 187 was what changed things:

The so-called Save Our State, or SOS, initiative prohibited immigrants in the U.S. illegally from using healthcare and public education in California, effectively denying these services to hundreds of thousands of their children. Anti-immigrant activists spun divisive slogans like “Deport Them All” and “Send Them Home,” while Wilson and the California Republican Party strongly endorsed Proposition 187. Those who stood on the other side were called traitors. When the coauthor of Proposition 187 said at a rally that “you are the posse, and SOS is the rope,” the entanglement of GOP support for 187 with racially intolerant rhetoric was complete.

Proposition 187 passed, but a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional. As Mexico’s president, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, decried the law as xenophobic, Wilson and his fellow Republicans doubled down and appealed the court’s decision. Although they ultimately failed to enact the law, they did succeed in driving a lasting wedge between the GOP and California’s Latino community.

Latino participation in California’s elections increased dramatically, and Republicans found it harder and harder to attract their votes. … Today no Republican holds elected statewide office in California, and Democrats hold a nearly 2-to-1 majority over Republicans in both the state Senate and the Assembly. Since Proposition 187, the state has never voted Republican for president. And Wilson’s campaign for the White House in 1996 lasted barely more than a month.

And then there’s Texas:

In 1994, the Texas Democratic Party was thriving. Two of the last three governors – Mark White and Ann Richards – were Democrats. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a Texan, had run on the national Democratic ticket for vice president in 1988 and was serving as U.S. Treasury secretary. George W. Bush had narrowly defeated incumbent Richards, but Democrats had been reelected to the offices of lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller and state treasurer.

Bush had the answer:

When it came to illegal immigration, Bush opposed “the spirit of 187” for Texas, saying he felt that “every child ought to be educated regardless of the status of their parents.”

From his first days as governor, Bush signaled that Mexico was not the enemy. He invited the governors of the five Mexican states closest to Texas to his inauguration and in his speech that day welcomed them, saying, “Friends bring out the best in each other. May our friendship bring much good to both our countries.”

The Texas GOP actively recruited Latinos into the party ranks. Continued outreach – emphasizing inclusion and respect for Latinos – helped the party achieve dominance in a state in which Latinos now approach 40% of the population.

No Democrat has won statewide office in Texas since 1994. As for Bush, he was reelected president in 2004 with one of the highest vote percentages among Latinos ever achieved by a Republican.

No more need be said. On November 8, 1994, Prop 187 passed easily but the whole thing was damned ugly – “Deport Them All” was shouted a lot. And there’s been no Republican Party here for years, and, as Greg Sargent reports, here we go again:

This new poll finding, courtesy of CNN, is not all that surprising, but it is very illuminating of the demographic challenges the GOP faces right now: A big majority of Republicans believes that the government’s main focus on immigration should be not just on stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, but also on deporting those already here.

The question was this:

What should be the main focus of the U.S. government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration – developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become legal U.S. residents, or developing a plan for stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here?

Sargent summarizes the results:

By 56-42, Americans support developing a plan to legalize undocumented immigrants over stopping their flow and deporting those already here – Independents agree by 58-39, and moderates by 59-40. But Republicans favor stopping the flow of undocumenteds and deporting those already here by 63-34. So do conservatives, by 55-43. “Those already here,” of course, amount to some 11 million people.

Now, it’s certainly possible that GOP support for deportation is inflated somewhat by the inclusion of securing the border on that side of the question. But even when the question is framed a bit less starkly, as a recent Post/ABC News poll did, a majority of Republicans does not think the undocumented should be allowed to live and work here even if they pay a fine and meet other requirements. This should not obscure the fact that a substantial number of Republicans are, in fact, open to legalization; it’s just that more of them apparently aren’t.

And as such, what the CNN numbers again confirm is that there is a deep and intractable divide between the two parties on what to do about the undocumented population. This fundamental underlying difference matters far more than Donald Trump’s vicious rhetoric, which (assuming he doesn’t run as a third party candidate) will likely prove ephemeral.

This could be Prop 187 all over again – deport them all. Why not be blunt, no matter whose precious feelings are hurt? Ed Kilgore addresses that:

There’s a tendency among progressives not to dwell on this, because we hope there’s enough sentiment within the GOP to outweigh or bring around the nativists. But at the same time, explaining the president’s use of prosecutorial discretion to give many of the undocumented relief doesn’t really make sense unless you understand Congress is refusing either to set its own priorities, or to legalize most of the undocumented, or to provide the resources to enforce the laws strictly as they claim to want. Truth is I suspect a majority of Republicans actually favor the lazy path of “self-deportation” – making life for the undocumented so miserable that they leave on their own—but Mitt Romney showed that approach was a political loser. Additionally, that’s a legally as well as morally dubious proposition.

So I think it’s important for progressives to get right up in the grill of conservative opponents of any path to legalization for the eleven million and ask them: Where’s the money to deport these people? Where are the appropriations for the cattle cars? Isn’t there a transportation bill on the floor of the House? Get with it or stop complaining about what Obama’s doing in the absence of any congressional policy.

There’s truth-telling, and then there’s bullshit, and then there’s John Kasich:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a message for presidential candidates: “Grow up.”

In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, the 2016 hopeful suggested that presidential candidates typically make “ridiculous” promises and focus less on solutions than on running “just to get elected.”

“If we’re running for these offices just to get elected, I mean, we’re not running for class president,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “We’re running to be the commander-in-chief and the leader of the United States of America. Grow up.”

“I’m not going to just make statements just to make them,” he added.

John Kasich came to the same fork in the road the other Republicans came to. They went one way. He went the other – and he won’t have a chance to win the nomination of a political party that gives us that rebellious American attitude where you do whatever the hell you want to do – damn the consequences – and say whatever you want to say, no matter what anyone else thinks. That’s freedom, right? Real Americans let it rip – they’re loud, crude, and rude, and they don’t give a damn about your precious feelings.

Everyone loves that, right? That’s the road “less traveled by” – the road of independence and self-actualization and self-respect and all the rest – but there’s a reason people don’t take that other road. Losers travel that road.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
This entry was posted in Deport Them All, Immigration Reform, Iran Nuclear Deal, Mike Huckabee and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Road Taken

  1. Rick says:

    If you’re looking for some sort of proof that Donald Trump never backed away from a stupid mistake in his life, just ask yourself this one question:

    How else would you explain that hair?

    I mean, the fact that his haircut looks fake has been a national joke long enough for him to have changed his hairstyle by now, but he’s nothing if not a man who stands behind his mistakes. And now Mike Huckabee wants to borrow some of Donald’s magic?

    As tempting as it is to be able to bring someone’s argument to a full-stop with the words, “Oh, yeah? Well so did Adolph Hitler!” — sort of like invoking the nuclear version of “So’s your mother!”, or “That’s what SHE said!”

    The reason Hitler and the Holocaust are “off limits” in argument is in respect to Jews themselves. That is, by turning to that line of discussion, you’re saying that there are other things in the history of the world comparable to the Nazis doing what they did to Jews in World War II. The Anti-Defamation League, reflecting the views of many of their fellow Jews on this, would prefer you show a little respect by not going there. Yes, not going there makes it a little harder to argue against this stuff ever happening again, but rules of engagement are rules, nonetheless, and most smart people know this.

    Mike Huckabee either doesn’t know this about this unwritten rule, or doesn’t care — and when someone points it out to him, he still doesn’t get it:

    “Three times I’ve been to Auschwitz. When I talked about the oven doors, I have stood at that oven door, I know what exactly it looks like,” Huckabee continued. ”I will not apologize, and I will not recant…”

    Yes, yes, we know, you’ve paid your dues, but although you’ve stood at that door and you know what it looks like, you’re being asked by folks who have more of a personal stake in Auschwitz than you do, to tone it down.

    Are you aiming your sermon at American Jews, who apparently favor the Iran deal at a 20% higher rate than the rest of us? Or are you really preaching to your own choir of evangelicals, in which case you think you can totally ignore the ADL?

    Still not getting it is a bad move when you’re running for president. Although Huckabee probably has followers who are equally clueless and careless and who stand by their guns, my guess is there are even more potential voters who see this as dancing with two left feet. You want your president to be nimble.

    Even worse, I’d think most voters won’t like that Huckabee is trying to follow Trump’s seemingly-successful lead on not backing off from saying something stupid. Yeah, it seems to work for Trump, but eventually he won’t be getting away with this either, and everything will come tumbling down around him, with him still not apologizing for all the chaos he caused, saying he’ll just go back to building tall buildings with his name on them, and making billions and marveling at the fact that he’s having sex with all the world’s hottest babes — including, for all I know, his own daughter. Hey, the Donald doesn’t follow the rules, which helps explain why he’ll never be an American president.

    Seriously, are we in the “election year” yet?


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