Friday, December 8, 2017

The Man Who Would Be King



My upcoming newspaper column:
First came kakistocracy, as Trump drained thieves and incompetents into his government. Then, following in goosestep, oligarchy and, to facilitate it, prevariocracy. Finally, undisguised despotism, as Trump does everything he can to gain unfettered control of our government. If the following doesn’t cause alarm even among Trumpists, nothing will. (It won’t. Nothing will.)  
Remember Eric Prince, brother of public education’s enemy number one, Betsy DeVos, former CEO of Blackwater, Bush’s private army in Iraq? Trump is, according to multiple reports, considering his proposal to establish a private intelligence agency, designed to counter the “deep state” actors in the CIA, working, in the minds of Trump, Hannity, Jones, and millions of paranoid denizens of the alt-universe, to “bring down” the Trump presidency. (In that world, “deep state” and “bring down” are terms to describe seekers of truth; people patriotic and brave enough to expose the anti-democratic, destructive activities of Trump and his swampizens.) 
Taking care not to overheat your brain, think about it: our historically low-approval, popular-vote-losing, Nazi-excusing, dictator-admiring, political-opponent-threatening, promise-breaking, violence-promoting, prevaricator-in-chief of the USA, until recently considered the moral and economic leader of the world (America, that is, not the recidivist confabulator), would install for his own use a separate, privy spy agency, unconstrained, following its own rules, outside the oversight of Congress, to gather intelligence on anyone he chooses, answering only to him. A group headed by a man indicted for money-laundering and, along with four former executives of his company, for weapons violations and making criminally false statements while under investigation. 
The sorts of people who claim Trump has never lied and is making America respected again, or who write letters asserting the mere promise of corporate tax breaks is stimulating our economy (ignoring the fact that such breaks are great for investors but neutral-to-bad for the economy) will see nothing worrisome in dismissing input from intelligence and law-enforcement agencies sworn to independence, and trying to get us to ignore it, too. One must hope actual (if theoretical) conservatives resistant to Foxolimjonesification are as horrified as those of us who recognize and warn of impending Trumpic danger. If not, we’re done for.  
Adding ignorance to outrage, after which Richard Nixon sat up in his grave and said “I told you so,” Trump’s attorney just claimed a president can’t obstruct justice, by definition. He IS justice. And, by inference, sole arbiter of constitutionality (assuming the Constitution is, to them, more than a quaint set of unenforceable guidelines). A president who considers himself above the law and has the lawyer to prove it, would spawn a mechanism to spy on and take down anyone he deems a threat. 
No one who loves America, no one who considers him- or herself a patriot (admittedly a word made devoid of meaning at the hands of the party of Gingrich, Rove, Cheney, and now Trump, Pence, McConnell, Moore…) should be okay with this. It’s safe to assume, though, that the thirty-three percent of Americans who still approve of and defend Trump are, and will be even if they wake up in Gitmo, mistakenly or otherwise. (Not unlike the Alabamans who’ve said they’ll vote for Supreme-Court-ignoring, twice-removed-from-office Roy Moore even if he did molest young girls.) 
When will the putative Republicans among the sixty-plus percent who disapprove of Trump do more than answer opinion polls? When will they choose country over party and join those of us who are trying to arrest this steadily increasing threat? There’s not a lot of time left. 
The FBI, which Donald described as “in tatters,” just foiled a right-wing American terrorist who, armed with five high-power rifles, planned mass murder at a Florida mosque. Because it doesn’t fit his fabricated narrative, Trump ignored it. It’s counter to his falsehoods about the FBI and about immediate origins of terrorism; claims intended to consolidate power. 
Not satisfied with demeaning the FBI and CIA, Trump has gutted the State Department, whose counsel he rejects as well. It’s a terrifying trifecta: arrogance, megalomania, ignorance. As if we need more proof, Trump, unilaterally, against advice from all quarters, just pronounced Jerusalem the capital of Israel and intends to move the US Embassy there. Poof: US credibility as an honest broker disappears. It’s almost as if he WANTS the Middle East to blow up. 
War, after all, is the trough at which dictators feed. 
[Image source]

Thursday, December 7, 2017

You Can Call Me Al



I can't escape the feeling that this was orchestrated by people like Roger Stone and Steve Bannan. I take Franken at his word that many of the claims are false. But he did what had to be done, I guess.

I trust the good that comes from the absolutely necessary awakening to the ongoing abuse of women in the workplace and elsewhere will make up for the loss of a smart, hard-working, formerly effective liberal Senator.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Time To Wake Up


Here's my next newspaper column:
Time Magazine offered me “Person of the Year” before Trump, but they wanted me to say they invented “Foxolimjonesian” and “Foxification.” I declined.  
When Trump makes a similar claim, and Time responds that nothing he said is remotely true, that’s serious. Unlike my fib, his lies are legion, and affect us all. Since the election, his untruths number more than 1,600. You can look it up. It’s beyond pathological. In a “leader,” it’s alarming. The only thing more so is people who deny it.  
Retaining ownership of the above-noted appellations, I present my latest: Prevariocracy. Because they can’t win honestly with their donor-demanded, economically irresponsible, environmentally destructive, stockholder-enriching, poverty-punishing, no-growth fiscal agenda, Republican leaders created the prevariocracy to push their no-hearings, no-jobs corporate tax breaks. Among other untruths. Trump, his cabinet, and his rapacious Congress aren’t draining the swamp. They ARE the swamp. 
Faced with choosing between protecting the institutions on which America was founded – preserving democracy, in other words – and an agenda constructed expressly to foster and maintain oligarchy, they’ve chosen the latter. It’s a Mephistophelian bargain, at the expense of 95% of us, supporters included. 
Erasing the boundaries between truth and falsehood is but the starting point for today’s Republican leaders. It underpins Trump’s nonstop attacks on non-Foxolimjonesian media, promoting the myth of “fake news” to defame reporters brave enough to expose their fictions. (The Washington Post just parried a Koch-funded O’Keefian scam aimed at discrediting reporting on Roy “Unqualified-even-without-predation” Moore. Trump has contributed ten grand to O’Keefe.) Creating distrust of non-propagandist media, Trump feels free to lie about Russian connections and election interference. And pretty much everything else. 
Deliberate as an IED, Republicans are turning the electoral process into a weapon for retaining power, rather than the means by which we are empowered to influence our government. They’ve chosen to win by gerrymandering, and by promulgating the Orwellian falsehood of massive voter fraud to justify laws impeding access to polling places by Democratic-leaning citizens. In states Trump won by a whisper, it worked to the tune of hundreds of thousands of legal voters turned away. 
Worse: recognizing that people capable of thinking, having access to free-flowing information, are a threat to their deceptions, Republicans have been attacking public education for decades, creating a warehouse of pliable voters, ignorant of science, suspicious of expertise. From rewriting history textbooks to teaching mythology over science, cynically manipulating the faithful, whom they regard as fertile soil in which to plant their dishonesty (when will they see it?), their war on truth and the desire and ability to obtain it has been unrelenting. 
And now they’re targeting access to the internet, where facts counter to their deceits are in abundance, for people immune to the plague of disinformation they’re spreading, aided by Russia. The FCC was inundated with as many as a million fake letters and emails demanding an end to net neutrality. Predictably, suspiciously, the Trump-appointed head of the FCC is refusing to cooperate with investigations. If they succeed in undermining fair access, it’ll hit poor people the hardest. Anyone surprised? 
Simultaneously, almost unnoticed, right-wing media conglomerates like Sinclair metastasize across the land (they’re here), substituting Fox-like propaganda for news. Democracy depends on informed voters; these attacks on accurate information are multi-varied and disturbingly effective.  
And they know maintaining this subversion requires larding federal courts with incompetent ideologues who’ll look the other way from attacks on voting, minority rights, women’s health, environmental protection, separation, consumer protection (a Trump appointee just did), and more. 
Since the American Bar Association has been evaluating judicial nominees, initiated by President Eisenhower in 1953, less than one percent of all nominees had been deemed not qualified. Until Trump’s. Of them, it’s eight percent. (Trump told the ABA he’ll ignore their recommendations. He already has a swampful of choices.) The Republican Senate consented. To them, judicial qualification means willingness to legislate from the bench. Their way.  
Realizing that legislating wealth accretion for themselves and their financers requires destroying the indispensable components of a free society, Trump and Republicans are doing so, enthusiastically. It can’t be overstated how dangerous this is. People who ignore it are facilitators; those who see and excuse it fatally misunderstand, or reject, the true source of American greatness. Trump retweets Nazi anti-Muslim videos. Fox spews state-sponsored agitprop. Congressional deconstruction is relentless. “It can’t happen here?"
It is. Right now.
  
[Image source: Facebook, somewhere]

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