James G. Gilmore

Ideologue. Polemicist. Episcopalian. Curmudgeon.

Election 2016

My heart is aching tonight.

It is aching for the millions who will suffer when they lose the health care they need to survive, the LGBT people who may see their marriages voided and their identities denied.

My heart is aching for the people around the world who will live in greater fear that they might say or do something that sets off the great American bully.

My heart is aching for the Congolese refugee family that our local refugee ministry just settled here in New Bern, who escaped the dangers of a war-torn violent hell only to find themselves in a new hell of terror and fear, and the thousands of other families like theirs.

My heart is aching for the immigrant families who will be torn apart, for the Muslim Americans who will live in fear, for the people of color who thought they might be able to believe that things could get better but will now (rightly) view every white face with suspicion.

My heart is aching for the Church, so corrupted by love of money and the scourge of nationalism that we lacked the moral strength, wisdom, and faith in Christ to stand up as one and say “NO. We do not accept this.”

There is no victory tonight, only sadness and dread. We are entering a period of great darkness, and for the first time in my life, I am not sure that the country I love will make it to the other side.

How to Stop the Trump Gallop

Advocates for science are familiar with an argumentative technique called the “Gish Gallop,” a term coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education.

Scott named the Gish Gallop in “honor” of creationist Duane Gish, who had a habit of laying out long strings of claims against evolution, one after another—all of which were either questionable, evidence-free, or simply dishonest.

If Gish had written just one or two of those claims, it would have been easy for the science advocates to point out exactly where he was wrong—but because he’d spew out a stream of them all at once, the amount of time and text required to refute his ridiculous claims made it extremely difficult to do.

I mention this because that’s what I see happening in the presidential election right now.

In the average day on the campaign trail, Little Donnie says at least ten things that would have been considered disqualifying from any other candidate—not just the racist, sexist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic stuff (which is utterly deplorable and disqualifying in its own right), but also things that would, by themselves, demonstrate that he is completely unsuited for the presidency.

But because he does these things all at once—rather than one at a time, bit by bit, piece by piece—our narrative-chasing “journalists” don’t know which one thing to fixate on. As a result, they do not subject Trump to the same high standards of intelligence, knowledge, or coherency to which they’d subject an ordinary presidential candidate (and to which they’re subjecting Sec. Clinton). Meanwhile, liberals and progressives like me notice that the “journalists” are treating Trump with kid gloves, and complain about that—sharing Trump scandal after Trump scandal in hopes that maybe our media will start doing their job.

When conservatives and liberals are both talking about one candidate, who is getting ignored? The other candidate.

The Trump Gallop not only lets him get away with a thousand lies and a thousand offensive things, said in sequence so that no one thing is picked apart—it also lets him suck all of the oxygen out of the room. He plays the media like a drum, making the whole conversation about him.

Recent polling has showed that younger millennials in particular, who were energized by Sen. Bernie Sanders’s candidacy, are increasingly supporting third parties, in part because they don’t believe that the two real parties’ candidates are speaking to their needs. And there’s evidence that Little Donnie’s recent rebound in the polls has less to do with his persuading more people to vote for him, and more to do with decreasing enthusiasm and increasing negativity among supporters of Sec. Clinton.

Earlier this week, Sec. Clinton’s campaign rolled out a new policy proposal on student debt and tuition—one that kept many of the good ideas from her original plan, but also rolled in many more of the good ideas from Sen. Sanders’s proposals during the primary.

But because the Trump Gallop was sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, that policy proposal didn’t get the attention it deserved.

Surrogates from the Trump campaign weren’t challenged to defend his (lack of) plan for college affordability or student debt. Surrogates from the Clinton campaign weren’t given the opportunity to present an agenda that would help millions of American young adults. We didn’t have a discussion on CNN or MSNBC or the Nightly News about why tuition costs are so high or how the candidates are addressing this issue. Social media streams (where many millennials get their news) were abuzz with the latest Trump atrocity, and not with Sec. Clinton’s plan to help young adults who are financially struggling.

And as a result, the American people—and particularly young Americans—lost a chance to truly evaluate which party considers their opportunities and their success a priority.

So if you’re a supporter of Sec. Clinton—like I am—you have one job:

Every time you share an anti-Trump article on social media, share a pro-Clinton article too. Every time you talk about how terrible Little Donnie is to your friends or family, turn it around and talk about what Hillary Clinton wants to do.

Hillary Clinton is a progressive, exciting candidate. The Democratic platform was the most progressive party platform ever. We have good reason to be excited about what she’ll do as president. But we need to share that excitement and give people a reason to vote for her. Let’s do it.

The Face of Public Television

Mr. Rogers

I know I’m about a month late on this, but I was inspired by PBS’s new Mister Rogers page to say something that I think needs saying:

Mister Rogers—not Big Bird—is the face of the public broadcasting Mitt Romney wants to do away with in order to save a few pennies of the federal budget.

Let’s face it: If PBS had never existed, Sesame Street would be somewhat viable on commercial TV, because it’s frenetic and energetic and can sell merchandise and such. Big Bird and Grover and “brought to you by the letter M” would be intercut with commercials for the latest marshmallow-laden breakfast monstrosity or Tonka trucks (do they make those anymore?) or Barbie or something. The show would have lost its soul, but it would have survived.

But if commercial TV had been the only outlet available 50 years ago, there’s no way Mister Rogers would ever have been on the air—if for no other reason than that I find it hard to believe that Fred Rogers would have tolerated visits to the Land of Make-Believe followed by quick-cuts to loud cartoons selling Count Chocula. There’s a reason Mr. Rogers didn’t take off as a merchandising giant like Sesame Street: Mr. Rogers just doesn’t sell things. It’s not what he does.

So if there were no PBS, Fred Rogers would probably have lived out his life as a much-loved children’s minister at a local Presbyterian church in the Pittsburgh area… not as a nationally-known figure whose gentle spirit taught millions of children that they are special and valuable just for being who they are.

If Mitt Romney had been president in the 1960s, America would never have known Mr. Rogers—and no matter how many pennies we might have saved on our income tax return every year, we as a nation would have been much, much poorer for the loss.

It’s not Big Bird that Mitt Romney wants to fire… it’s Mister Rogers. And that says something about both Mitt Romney and his vision for America.

In Mitt Romney’s America, anything that isn’t viable in the “marketplace” — like a quiet and affirming show by a gentle Presbyterian minister who teaches children that they are special people deserve to be loved simply for being who they are — doesn’t deserve to exist.

That’s not the America I want to live in—and if your childhood was touched by Fred Rogers’s gentle spirit, I don’t think that’s the America you want to live in either.

The False God of Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney serves a false god.

I’m not talking about his Mormonism… in fact, this has absolutely nothing to do with the religion of which he is a member, apparently in good standing.

What it does have to do with is the way he’s lived his life, the things he’s spent his time and energy pursuing.

[Jesus said:] “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”—Matthew 6:21

What god does Mitt Romney serve? He has devoted his life to the pursuit of profits above all other things. If it meant destroying whole communities by shipping all of a factory’s jobs overseas, he would do it. If it meant hurting America’s economy and American families by lowering American workers’ wages or cutting their benefits, he would do that. If it meant selling for scrap or loading with debt a company around which entire towns were built, he would do that.

Mitt Romney gained his treasure—and continues to keep it—where profit takes precedence over all other concerns, where things like ethics or patriotism, community or family, decency or honesty, can and will be cast aside in a heartbeat if they are obstacles to the acquisition of more money.

And he’s called for it to be a constitutional requirement that anyone who wants to lead this country spend at least three years pursuing profit and selfish gain. (Curiously, he’s fallen silent on this issue since nominating a running mate who doesn’t meet his qualifications.)

In other words, we see from where Mitt Romney’s treasure where his heart is, what the god in his heart truly is—and it’s clear that Mitt Romney bows down and worships the Almighty Dollar, Valued Be Its Name.

Mitt Romney does not follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Torah and Prophets who judges the nations by the way they treat their poor and working people, and he certainly doesn’t follow Jesus Christ, whose birth was annunciated by his mother with the vision that “he has filled the hungry with good things, but the rich he has sent away empty.”

No, Mitt Romney follows the god of J.P. Morgan and Ayn Rand, the god who proclaims that to serve anyone or anything other than your own greed and selfishness are moral evils.

Mitt Romney follows a god who demands that a millstone be tied around the neck of anyone who would suggest that anyone is morally obligated to place their responsibility to God and to one another higher than their own desires or self-interest.

That is Mitt Romney’s false god… the false god of Mammon.

And we who acknowledge one of the basic truths of Scripture—that one cannot serve both the true God and Mammon—should reject him and his god.

Mitt Romney: No Qualifying Experience

So, let me get this straight:

Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital is now “off-limits.”

Mitt Romney’s personal finances, in which he stashes money on the Cayman Islands and Bermuda so that he won’t have to pay taxes to the country that brought him his great wealth and continues to protect it, are “off-limits.”

And he’s running like hell away from his record as governor of Massachusetts.

What does that leave, exactly?

If nothing he’s done in his adult life actually counts, then on what basis is he suggesting that he’s qualified to be elected President of the United States? His business experience is off-limits, and he wants us to forget he was governor of Massachusetts. What else is there?

By his own surrogates’ definition of what’s “off-limits,” Mitt Romney has no experience at all doing, well, anything—and is thus supremely unqualified to be President.

This Chart Says It All.

Via Talking Points Memo.

So if our productivity has gone up and our wages have stagnated, where’s all that extra money going?

Answer: To people like Willard Mittens Romney.


66,800 = my Buffett Number.

That’s roughly the number of millionaires whose tax rate is lower than mine—and odds are, most of them get representation in Congress too.

When are we going to demand they pay their fair share?

Yes, I now have a tumblr.

I’m that guy.


I’m trying to get it to auto-update on here. Let’s see if that works.

Memo to Rick Perry

RE: Your accusing the Obama administration of violating your state’s “right to make sovereign decisions”

Dear Ricky:

There’s this thing called the Constitution. I know that’s a pretty big word for you, so let’s just call it the Big Law For America. Anyway, the Big Law For America (Article I, Section 4) makes it pretty clear that states DON’T have the “right to make sovereign decisions” on voter ID when it says:

“The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.”

Seems pretty clear to me. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act into law, giving DOJ the power to block state election laws; thus, DOJ supersedes whatever “sovereignty” your state has.

Maybe you should take a few minutes to educate yourself next time you’re tempted to spout off like a damn fool.



Another Open Memo to Rick Santorum

This memo is in response to a recent Fox News interview with Rick Santorum, in which he states that “I think the bottom line is that we do well among people who take their faith seriously, and as you know just like some Protestants, some Protestants are not church going, they are folks who identify with a particular religion but don’t necessarily practice that from the standpoint of going to church and the like, and I think, you know, with folks who do practice their religion more ardently I tend to do well.”

Dear Rick:

I go to church just about every week.

I take my faith very seriously.

It is precisely because of how seriously I take my faith that I will never in a million years cast a ballot for you or any other right-wing theocrat who’s for “small government” when it comes to economic and political justice for all of this nation’s people, but is all for making government bigger when it comes to imposing your sect’s values on everyone else’s lives.

In other words… bite me.