Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Lawn Order

Add this to the list of differences between Democrats and Republicans: not considering it “weaponization” when Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice indicted Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), whose bill of particulars, like Trump’s, appalls. No cries of “witch hunt” or “two-tiered justice,” except Menendez himself, who Trump-eted, “Those behind this campaign simply can’t stand that a first-generation Latino-American from humble beginnings can rise to become a US Senator...”

Similarly, as to Hunter Biden, many on the left have noted that federal indictments are rare for his infractions and have questioned the insecure handling of THE LAPTOP!!!!, but none have said he did nothing wrong.

From Democrats there have been no calls for presidential pardons, none for defunding the DOJ. No liberal has characterized as gestapo tactics the FBI search of the senator’s home. Instead, one hears escalating calls for Menendez to resign or be booted (not from Republicans, though); and agreement that if Hunter Biden is found guilty, he deserves appropriate punishment. Menendez has already had to resign his powerful Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship.

Imagine that: Recognizing its indispensability, one party respects our system of justice, while another – a self-proclaimed defender of law and order -- doesn’t. Wants, rather, to stifle its independence or defund it entirely.

Unfamiliar with the concept of integrity, rightwing icons like Charlie Kirk and the usual Foxing heads want to convince their ungulate followers that the Menendez indictment was a “deep state” ploy to make it appear that the DOJ is impartial. With today’s “conservatives” and their media, you can’t win. Anything good done by President Joe Biden or his government is bad. Anything bad done or said by Trump is good. Facts that breach the bubble are fake. Trump’s crimes aren’t crimes, while Biden’s lack of crimes demands investigation.

That mentality provides excellent ratings for Fox “news” and plenty of airtime for Trumpublicans, but it’s a parody of responsible governance. (Would I credit Trump if he did something good? See below.)

Daily examples confirm Republicans’ disinterest in and inability to produce serious legislation. For a budget to pass, Gym Jordan prattled on Fox “Business,” “... no money can be used to target your political opponents, which is exactly what Jack Smith is doing to President Trump.” Then, without irony, he went on to update the audience on his made-for-Foxification targeting of Hunter Biden.

Another: Margorie Taylor Greene (R-Jezero Crater) announced she’ll vote against any budget that includes money for Ukraine because they “sex traffic” children and “harvest their organs.” Thereupon, Semispeaker Kevin McCarthy stripped funding from their proposal.

Making America great, people actually voted for that lady. Is she a liar or just surpassingly stupid? Either way, she’s angling for and may well be Trump’s VP pick. A vengeful authoritarian plus a meretricious conspiracist: Trumpism’s pinnacle and America’s agonal breath. Kari Lake? Interchangeable.

Without desperate vote suppression and unscrupulous gerrymandering, lunatic MTG, crotchety Lauren Boebert, and the rest of the Caucus of Crazy would be babbling on street corners, as passers-by hurried on, avoiding eye contact. Prone to confusion as he is, when Trump said, “They aren’t sending their best,” he might have meant Republican states, not Mexico. It’s possible, though, that those people ARE the best they have.

Definitely not our best, but reading the ketchup on the wall, Trump, who brags that, by anointing bench-legislating, billionaire-selected ideologues to SCOTUS, he deserves credit for ending reproductive choice, is suddenly simulating sensibility. Now he’s suggesting there’s middle ground, rather than, say, making felons of people who drive women to another state for a legal abortion. I’ll say it: Good for him. I’ll also say: his epiphany comes more from electoral worries than empathy derived from a rumored past.

Lest we conclude that Trump, aka inmate P01135809 out on bail, has turned toward the light, something he’s done only during a solar eclipse, he confirmed his plans for a second “presidency,” should the combination of anti-democracy voters and third-party candidates return him to the Oval Office. Implying General Mark Milley deserves death, he pretended it was because, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the general wisely reassured China of America’s stability after 9/11. In reality, he was furious over Milley’s book revealing Trump’s dangerous ignorance and incompetence.

Trump also promised government weaponization to punish “treasonous” news organizations. To His Errancy, criticism in any form is a capital crime. But P01135809 and Trumpists call Democrats fascists.

Finally, for a chuckle: Because they knew of Senator Menendez’s sleaze, Trump presumes, he demands that all Democratic senators must resign. Having covered projection last week, it should be unnecessary to identify it again. But there it is. Same with his rant about media, leaving out the real danger, Fox “news” et ilk. His just-rendered conviction for fraud isn't projection. It's a decades-long truth.

Oh, and that over-hyped poll? There’s only one that matters: “Democracy or Autocracy: choose one.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2023



Projection: attributing to others what one is, in fact, doing oneself. Everything, in other words, that Trump and his defenders accuse Democrats, especially President Joe Biden, of doing. Prime example: Trump’s relentlessly repeated phrase in reference to those pointing out and prosecuting his crimes and lies: “Fascist thugs.” This, from the guy who promises weaponized retribution, were he to become “president” again. Campaigns on it.

Also the guy who bragged about threatening electoral retribution to Texas state senators if they voted to remove Texas’ laughably corrupt attorney general, Ken Paxton. It was jury-tampering, by definition. By a fascist thug. Who bragged.

In a dead heat with Florida to become the apotheosis of Republican authoritarian leadership, Texas outdid itself in that impeachment trial. Presided over by their Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, who gives Governor Abbott a run for his money in the race to the bottom of cruelty, the outcome was predetermined. Prior to the trial, Patrick accepted $3 million from a Paxton-associated PAC, subsequent to which every ruling he made favored the impeachy.

Paxton’s corruption had been so obvious that Texas House Republicans voted (I know, right?) overwhelmingly to impeach. The Senate, one of whose members is Paxton’s un-recused wife, succumbed to Patrick’s pressure and Trump’s threats, letting him off as shamelessly as Republican US Senators did in Trump’s impeachment trial. Several of them voted against Trump, however; whereas in Texas the corruption left none untouched.

In terms of nationwide importance, though, other than reconfirming the Republican Party’s love and defense of lawbreakers, domestic and foreign, Alabama beat Texas in the destruction derby, by demonstrating that our constitutional democracy depends on buy-in by all of us; especially lawmakers, state and federal. Ordered by the Supreme Court (no fan of its current composition, I) to undo its egregious gerrymandering and create two predominately Black districts, Alabama’s legislators simply refused to do it. “What’s SCOTUS gonna do,” we presume they concluded. “Send Sonia Sotomayor down here to beat us up?”

It’s true, of course. The Supreme Court has no enforcement arm of its own. Its rulings are made real by citizens who believe in our system of laws and governance, and who voluntarily defer to them, in order to preserve civil society; the thin ice on which we skate as a nation. The Republican Party’s decision to follow the spirit and letter of the law only when it suits them is another form of climate change, nearly as deadly; the one which melts it all down.

Moreso their caving to and defense of Trump, by simple observation the greatest threat to democracy ever to occupy the White House, even though he came in through the back door. His round-the-clock flurry of lies and threats are nearly universally unchecked by members of his party, too afraid of being primaried, too lacking in integrity to speak up. Did he destroy documents? By continuing to claim, falsely, that the January 6 committee destroyed all theirs, we know the answer is yes. Projection.

So while Republicans and whatever is the appropriate term for Trump claim it’s Democrats who want to destroy America, it’s they who are, in fact, actively doing it; because they understand that constitutional democracy is not their friend. Allowing fair elections with equal access to voting for all; following judicial orders and Congressional subpoenas: politically counterproductive. The same goes for proper education. Projecting “cancel culture” on liberalism, today’s Republicans are banning books all over the country, in far greater numbers than the occasional objection to Dr. Seuss: the former is aimed at preventing children from learning and thinking about science and America’s true history; whereas the latter, et similar, if misguided, is about acknowledging stereotypes.

This week we witnessed – those who could stand it – the conspiracy-promoting, fact-free, get-me-on-Fox attacks on Attorney General Merrick Garland, who sat, more patiently than humanly possible, before Gym Jordan’s committee investigating... stuff. More projection; more weaponizing government against those with whom they disagree. While the country faces insolvency due to a handful of intransigent, far-right, not-right members, while House Republicans are unable even to fund our military (the party of strong defense!!) they continue their pursuit of the world’s greatest criminal mastermind, private citizen Hunter Biden, whose nefarious scheme to launder money, they say, was done in the open, through commercial banks. Garland got him a grillin’ on that, too.

That Hunter B was just indicted by a Trump-appointed investigator, carried over and not interfered with by President Biden, somehow wasn’t considered important by Mr. Garland’s inquisitors. Conspirators gotta conspire, after all, facts be darned.

President Biden, both senile and a brilliant deceiver, must surely be impeached, evidence of involvement, or not. Senile? Trump just claimed he beat Barack Obama in his election, and that he, Trump, prevented World War Two. Watch the video in the link. Senility is Trump’s most definitional projection of all. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Democracy, Attacked

On Monday, the twenty-second anniversary of the attacks on 9/11/01, I listened to a podcast in which the speaker remarked on the unity Americans felt that day. When our democracy is threatened, he posited, Americans come together. (Except Trump, whose actions on and after that day should be memorialized along with the attacks.)

The podcast was well-intentioned and, other than the “democracy” proposition, approximately true. The attack was on people, American citizens, mostly, but not our form of government, per se. If threats to democracy brought us together, the Civil War would never have happened and today’s Republican Party would have been relegated to irrelevance, long ago. Add to the equation respect for the rule of law, even laws with which one disagrees, and accepting election results, even those which one finds disappointing, and it’s incontestable.

Begun before Trump but raised stratospherically by and for him, Republican attacks on democracy have become platform-level policy. So much so that Trump is running, specifically, on the ways he’d subvert it if elected. Rather than finding his increasingly projectile, fascist-adjacent ranting abhorrent, supporters’ eyes remain unbatted. 

Actions, we’re told, speak more loudly than words. Based on their willfully anti-democratic actions, the party of patriotism and law and order can no longer claim either; nor, since they “elected” Trump, have they bothered to pretend otherwise. The preceding Civil War reference is appropriate, as many of their party’s leaders are warning of it, while others openly call for it should Trump not be reelected, for any of several democracy-preserving, defeat-demanding reasons.

Osama bin Laden’s attack on the Capitol was thwarted by brave passengers on United Flight 93. Trump’s attack on the Capitol, also thwarted by brave Americans, got further. And, unlike 9/11, 1/6 was aimed directly at democracy.

To his credit, usually wind-fingering Mike Pence, who has zero chance of becoming the Republican nominee, just called out the degradation of his party. Referring to Trumpism’s abandonment of conservatism, he said, “Should the new populism of the right seize and guide our party, the GOP as we have long known it will cease to exist. And the fate of American freedom would be in doubt.

That party, of course, ceased to exist long ago; and freedom is precisely what the 2024 election will be about. Not Hunter Biden. Not Joe Biden’s or Trump’s age. Not taxes. Not even borders. Freedom. From the authoritarian rule Trump promises, of which his orchestrated “impeachment inquiry” is an example, to cheers at his rallies and silence from Republican “leaders” who should – possibly do – know better. 

There are, in fact, people who know better. Signed by presidential centers of thirteen former presidents from both parties, an extraordinary statement was just released from the George W. Bush Presidential Center, calling for a return to the foundational principles of our democracy. Why now? Because until now, until Trump, it was unnecessary.

The statement stopped short of naming Trumpism explicitly, but the message was clear, and concluded thus: “By signing this statement, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles of democracy undergirding this great nation, protecting our freedom, and respecting our fellow citizens. When united by these convictions, America is stronger as a country and an inspiration for others.” If only.

There’s little doubt Trump will be the Republican nominee, and none that he’d receive millions of votes, from people who love his dictatorial promises to imprison his “enemies” and, as opposed to the fairytale accusations of Joe Biden, actually to weaponize government as an instrument of revenge. Which, as mentioned, he’s doing now, according to reports, personally directing the transparently political, evidence-lacking, un-voted-upon impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Ironically, any forthcoming subpoenas are already invalid, per Trump’s own justice department.  

Despite worrying about the future my grandchildren face, I’m betting there are more Americans who see Trump for the danger he represents than don’t; enough to ensure that the next president will not be him. Also encouraging are electoral outcomes, in various states, in reaction to Republican tactics: proofless impeachments, banning history, criminalizing abortion, teaching Prager U in public schools. If they continue their cynical legislative uselessness, they may lose the House and sink further into minority in the Senate.

As I run out of adequately descriptive words, here are some from Joseph Heller’s novel, Catch-22, foreshadowing Trump and the ease with which his amoral perfidy took root: “It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, ... arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.” 

The flourishing of character-free Trumpism also required decades-long efforts to convince enough voters that knowledge, science, and expertise are bad; and propagandistic media happy to profit by promoting it. In 2024, we must bring it to an end.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023


No politics today. Instead, I’ll try to describe what it's like for a surgeon operating in a potentially disastrous situation. Even being as in command of yourself as you can possibly be, it tests everything you’ve learned, everything you can bring to bear. And, on some level, it’s scary. I’ve been in war, feared for my life. It's not the same. In the OR, it’s worse.

In Vietnam, the odds were with me: nightly rocket attacks; large base, small target. Occasional risky flying. By contrast, potentially ruining or ending the life of someone in my care, having to forge ahead knowing the next move could literally be deadly while having no personal risk at all — that’s a uniquely surgical fear, I think; at risk of making a fatal move, as opposed to having one made at you. Sometimes – not often -- I've failed to save a severely injured person. It feels terrible. But never, unless memory fails, have I caused a surgical catastrophe. If I had, I might have quit.

Once, as a lowly surgical intern, I was holding retractors while a professor struggled to extirpate a large pelvic tumor. I don't remember the details -- probably the ensuing river of red washed them out of my brain. What I recall, though, as if I carry a picture of it in my wallet, is how fast the field filled with blood. That's what happens when the iliac vein is breached: it's big, it's fragile, it doesn't hold a stitch very well. And it's connected immediately to the vena cava, the biggest and fullest of them all.

When you approach any major blood vessel, you want to have wide access to it. You want proximal and distal control, meaning the parts of the vein or artery above and below where you plan to work need to be easily approached, exposed, and ready. Dissected out, maybe slung with rubber loops, to facilitate placing clamps if needed. With a big tumor blocking view, those measures can be impossible.

So the surgeon worked his way around the mass, apprehensive, I assume, about what lay behind. Whether he lost his way, didn't anticipate the anatomic distortion, or just came up snake-eyes, I can't say. But when he lacerated the vein, blood poured out like a prison break, while the tumor prevented gaining control.

I've been there. Forced to deal with an unexpectedly undecipherable mass of indeterminate origin, causing obstruction in multiple areas of bowel stuck to it, adjacent to big vessels. Wanting an easy way to avoid opening the door to disaster, but seeing none. 

"Okay," I'll say. "This could be trouble. Let's take some time to be ready." Start another couple of IVs. Get blood in the room, bring in the cell saver (a device for collecting, filtering, and reusing the patient’s spilled blood). Open up some vascular clamps. And, because I want to eliminate all distractions, I also like to open an emergency pack of silence, asking everyone in the room to stop loose talk and to shut off the music. (Music in the OR is nice, most of the time.)

As tense and demanding as it is, it's also thrilling, if that’s the word -- maybe even spiritual -- to leave behind everything else in the world, and, like a living lens, focus entirely, body and mind, on a few centimeters of space; to have time all but stop. Perhaps paradoxically, despite breath speeding up, aware of rising pulse, and sweat dripping down my sides -- even needing to pause for the ultimate cliché, the wiping of a brow by a nurse (I've dripped sweat into the occasional wound -- safely flushed it away with lots of saline) -- my hands don't shake.

But yes, dissecting my way into the area as carefully, clear-headedly, and patiently as I know how, at an incompletely suppressed level I'm fearful. And although, while in the maelstrom, there's confidence I can carry on as long as necessary (like sound and extraneous thought, physical discomfort shrinks into insensibility) when the tension has passed, physical and mental exhaustion can well up with surprising suddenness. Neck stiff, back aching, hyper-extended knees wobbly and sore. (I stood back once, not realizing a knee had gone numb, and went down like a ton of scalpels.)

I guess there's a sense of accomplishment, but it's more like having lucked out. Knowing, like that day decades ago, it could have been otherwise; wanting never to be in that situation again, it's hard to feel pride. Not in the moment, anyway. Only relief.

Because I believe the way to deal with complications is knowing how to avoid them in the first place, and as hard as I work to do that, I can’t help wondering -- even when pretty sure there was no option -- whether I missed an alternative to skating on such thin ice. I couldn't do it every day.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Overheard ...


Mar-a-Lago, 8/23/23 (Some words may have been mis-transcribed): 

Serial Conspirator, Unindicted Malefactor #1: “If I may suggest, Your Heinous, can you tilt your chin down just a bit more? If you’ll note in the mirror, chins three and four are still showing.” 

#PO1135809: “I make the best tilt. No one knows tilting like me. People are saying.”

SCUM #1: “Yes, Sir. Of course. We’ll just raise your collar and tighten the tie. There. See? Gone like that Iraq invasion plan. Now try turning your eyes upward. Like Nicholson in The Shining. That’ll be a perfect pose.” 

#PO1135809: “Perfect as my phone calls.” [Reaches for cheeseburger.]

SCUM #1: “More glower, too, Your Disgrace. Not just anger. Your people want menace. That ‘I’m coming after you’ vibe. They’ll eat it up. Open their wallets.”

#PO1135809: “Easy. Watch this.” [Thinks Stormy Daniels, mushrooms.]

SCUM #1: “Excellent! That’s it, Your Loudship. If there wasn’t going to be a mugshot, we’d make that one. Gold mine.”

#PO1135809: “Shirts, trading cards. Posters. NFTs. So much easier than selling steaks and vodka, hiring professors, owning casinos. Shoulda run years ago. Best sc... cashflow ever. Can you make my eyebrows flare upward?”

SCUM #2: “Here’s some gel, Your Travesty. Now, about merchandizing. Templates are ready, soon as the mugshot is released. Xi’s charging a buck-fifty for the shirts, so I’m thinking we sell for twenty-five.”

#PO1135809: “No way. Thirty-five minimum. They’ll pay anything. They think I’m God-given. If I believed in Him, I would, too.”

SCUM #2: “Thirty-five it is, Your Holeyness. Now we need a slogan. That ‘coming after you’ thing works. Proud Boys love it. Plus, it’s a double entendre that women might like.”

#PO1135809: “Who’s Double Aunt Andre? Anyway, no. Never surrender. Means whatever you want. The best words. Got Vlad’s go-ahead.”

SCUM #2: “Right you are, Miser Precedent. As always.”

#PO1135809: “Can we fit in something about the Presidential Records Act? It’s one of my favorite lies. Lines. I meant lines.”

SCUM #1: “Too wordy for a tee shirt, Empire. Maybe a poster.”

#PO1135809: “Do it. I hear I can report my own height and weight. Gonna go with six-three, two-fifteen. [SCUM #2 coughs.] Plenty of believers. They make pictures of me as Superman, y’know. [Gloms another cheeseburger.] Now about the motorcade. Secret Service, all in. Where are we with Fulton County? I want fifty cars. Flashing lights. More than Kim, MBS.”

SCUM #3: “Working on it. Fifty might not float, though, Your Warship. They’re saying thirty. Thirty-five tops.”

#PO1135809: “Not good enough. Remind them I know things. They’ll cave like loser Lindsey did. Well, maybe if they let me push the siren button...”


Somewhere in Columbus, Ohio, couple years ago:

Vivek Ramaswamy: “I’m bored. Any ideas?”

Pal #1: “I dunno. Movie?”

VR: “Nah. Think I’ll run for President.”

Pal #1 “Wow, okay. Wow. You know you haven’t voted much, Viv. Could be a problem. But, hey, why not? You’re rich. Which party are you thinking?”

VR: “Good question. I’ve given money to both. Thing is, Democrats’ policies are complicated. I’d need to do a lot of reading, harder to fake it. Republicans, it’s simple, snappy. Buzzwords. Look at Trump. Barely political, registered Democrat. Was even pro-choice (obviously). Flipped Republican, realized fear and resentment would work. Genius. They loved the lies, ignored his past. Doesn’t even speak in actual sentences.

I haven’t voted much? BFD. I’ll say what Trump says, but smarter. Make a list, reel it off every chance I get. Maybe add a couple more. If I sound Trumpy enough, my name thing goes away.”

Pal #2 “Brilliant. How ‘bout these, just spitballin’ here: God is real. There are two genders. Human flourishing requires fossil fuels. Reverse racism is racism. An open border is no border. Parents determine the education of their children. The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind. Capitalism lifts people up from poverty. There are three branches of the U.S. government, not four. The U.S. Constitution is the strongest guarantor of freedoms in history.”

VR: “Excellent. Little wordy, couple of them, clunky, but hits the notes. Profound-sounding. Thing is, the Constitution confuses me. Maybe leave that one out. Also, why not five branches? More punchy, get them talking. And let’s not mention fossil fuels. I don’t mind cheating or pandering, but look around...”

Pal #2: “Yeah, we get that. But if you want Republican votes and oil money, rednecks in pickups, Laura Ingraham, Alex Jones, you gotta deny climate change, no question. We can afford air conditioning. Not our problem.”

VR: “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s do it. Maybe I’ll flash my cool-guy rap skills, get the young vote. If I say Trump was the best president ever, will people ask why I’m running against him? No? Good. Okay. Now, Russian TV will be easy. How do we get on Fox?”  


Speaker’s office, today:

SINO: “Still no evidence.”

MTG: “Impeach.”

SINO: “Okay.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Killer Cults

No matter in what way one believes humankind came into existence, its current state shows the process was anything but perfect. Unable to grasp the rarity, the obligations of being alive, if ever so briefly, a subset of humans is ruining it, through selfishness, rancor, and intentional ignorance. Enough of them, anyway, to outweigh those who’ve managed to rise above outdated, primitive, and destructive instincts. Even in the minority (we’d like to think), they’re capable of destroying what we’ve been given. And they’re trying.

Perhaps there’s a reason – evolutionary or creationist – that there lingers among so many the need to give cultish, unquestioning devotion to authoritarian figureheads like Trump. “Drink the Kool-Aid,” after all, came from people so willing to submit to Jim Jones that they self-extinguished when asked. Small, isolated cults have always been around, often ending in mass suicide. “Heaven’s Gate” was another.

As difficult as it is to explain such people, they’ve tended to leave the rest of us mystified but unaffected. The cult of Trump, on the other hand, threatens us all. And not just one at a time, like people who fly rainbow flags or wear unwhite skin, but as a country, and, ultimately, as they deny climate change, as a species.

Surrendering to primordial instinct, genuflecting to Trump, a mendacious, solipsistic, embittered man, they’ve closed their minds to what it portends. In our lopsided democracy, they have all the power they need.

What explains the persistence of this deferential defect? Unless one believes a creator made us in his image and, therefore, must be imperfect (because we are), it argues for evolution. No evolutionist suggests it has achieved perfection; once-beneficial, now-destructive behaviors remain, to our detriment. Who knows why?

But it’s a philosophical dead end. For whatever reason, millions of Americans, and more around the world, haven’t the ability, or desire, to rise above prehistoric, reflexive fear and distrust of otherness. Having persisted for eons, that primal instinct may never disappear. In a graduation speech, Illinois Governor Pritzker put it this way: “The best way to spot an idiot: look for the person who is cruel... We survived as a species by being suspicious of things we aren’t familiar with... In order to be kind, we have to shut down that animal instinct... Empathy and compassion are evolved states of being... The kindest person in the room is often the smartest.” (The ellipsis-free version is here.)

The governor has it right, though he might have chosen otherly than “idiot;” applied to themselves, Trumpists don’t like that word. But theirs is a caveman’s worldview: fearful, paranoid, brutish. So-called Christians, in their devotion to Trump they’ve chosen cruelty over compassion. They want to erase kindness and empathy altogether, dismissing them, sneering, as “woke,” attributes to abhor. Texas, Florida, Arkansas, and, increasingly, all red states, are legislating and touting governmental cruelty. If there are conservatives who are disturbed by the trend, they’re shut out and silent. If they could be a force for returning their party to positivity, they choose or dare not.

Why so pessimistic? According to a recent poll, seventy-one percent of Trump supporters trust him for the truth more than family, friends, conservative media figures, or religious leaders. Given his tens of thousands of documented lies (not counting his business scams and failures), it fits with their disregard for his indictments and with the definition of a cult: Gullibility. Unquestioning belief. Self-abnegating obedience. Rather than sequestering in the forests of Guyana, though, or a boarded-up house in San Diego, this cult is embedded in plain sight within the Republican Party, calling the shots, setting the agenda, picking the targets of their Stone-Age thinking.

Much has been written about differences in brain functions between self-described conservatives and liberals. Gut-reactors vs. evaluators, in shorthand. No doubt, the differences would be most dramatic if the comparison specified Trump’s cultists rather than generic conservatives. Although there are stories of people successfully rescued from cults, for most it seems that, once in, there’s no escaping. Cults attract people who need to retreat from reality, who’d rather be told what to believe than make the effort required to think for themselves.

Some polls suggest cracks in the heretofore impenetrable, Foxotrumpian information-repelling wall. Among all Americans, Trump’s approval is dropping; as opposed to rising among his acolytes. Republican plutocrats appear to be taking note. Assessing the near-impossibility of a majority vote for Trump in a head-to-head election – not even in the antiquated Electoral College – and finding no one else worth purchasing, they’re surreptitiously backing third-party candidates; in particular, “No Labels,” designed specifically to pull votes from President Biden, deja-vuing Trump in through the back door.

The only way to get Republicans to rejoin our democracy, though, is a thorough trouncing of Trump at the polls. Then, maybe, they’d also stop supporting idiots (sorry) like those comprising the Freedom Caucus. The cult can easily find a new prevaricator. George Santos, perhaps?

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Showing Us Who They Are


“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Applied to today’s Republican Party, this insight from Maya Angelou is especially pertinent. At the beginning of its abandonment of good governance, the party’s fall from rationality was cloaked in the “Aw, shucks,” play-acting congeniality of Ronald Reagan. Now, having latched, like suckling pigs, onto a known associate of mobsters and a lying, scamming defendant in hundreds of lawsuits before being “elected,” they’re broadcasting who they are, megaphonically, unabashed; as if given permission by Trump. 

Take Wisconsin, where, in the election of 2018, Democrats received 53% of the vote but got only 36 seats in the state legislature. Compare to Republicans, who got 44% of the votes but won 63 seats. That’s the power of gerrymandering on the grandest of scales; upheld, of course, by Wisconsin’s right-wing majority Supreme Court. But now, in a special election, a liberal lady whose name is hard to spell was elected to the court by a resounding margin, switching the majority to liberals. Has the Republican legislature, modeling Democrats Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton, accepted the will of the people? Of course not.

Aping their counterparts in Congress, they’re threatening to impeach Justice Protasiewicz, whose high crime is defeating their candidate. She had campaigned, among other things, on reconsidering gerrymandering. “Foul,” cry Republicans. “She can’t pre-judge an issue!!” Well, isn’t stating a position a corollary of electing judges? She advocated for majority rule, and the majority elected her. Like the majority rejecting Trump, only opposite.

Who else shows us who they are? Matt Gaetz. Last week, alongside Trump, MAGAlly rejecting democracy, he proclaimed, “... [O]nly through force can we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington DC." Confirming the hypocrisy that’s become central to Republican leadership, he also hinted that “when” Trump is elected, he’ll become his Attorney General. As they “investigate” President Biden’s imaginary “weaponization of government,” they’re all in on protecting and excusing Trump, who is campaigning explicitly on weaponizing all aspects of the Executive Branch against his perceived enemies. To cheers from crowds and complicity from Congress.

Who else? Proctocranial Ted Cruz, who described the indictments of Trump as “... an abuse of power by angry Democrats who've decided the rule of law doesn't matter anymore." Which begs a paraphrase of Ms. Angelou’s’ warning: “When Republicans accuse Democrats of something, believe it’s projection.” Because, dismissing the indictments, with their detailed explanations of how Don Trumpleone and his fellow racketeers broke the law, it’s Cruz and his companion facilitators of Trump’s lawlessness -- like trying to subvert a lawful election – who manifestly reject the rule of law.

And here’s proofless profiler Jim Jordan: "Today’s indictment is just the latest political attack in the Democrats’ WITCH HUNT against President Trump. He did nothing wrong!" Ninety-some counts of criminality suggest otherwise. Trials and juries of citizens agreed to by both sides will decide. It’s the rule of law, which Democrats, alone, are pursuing. Truth. Justice. The American way. 

There’s plenty more “believe-who-they-are” actors. Like thirty-six other Republican Congressional denizens, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson previously signed a letter to Attorney General Garland demanding special counsel status for David Weiss, the Trump-appointed US Attorney who’s been investigating Hunter Biden, interference-free, for five years. That status gives Weiss more latitude and a wider investigatory playing field. But when Garland did so, Johnson blasted right through the hypocrisy roof, saying, “Weiss is probably the least independent person that Merrick Garland could have appointed.” So said they all

Johnson reveals who they are in other ways, too. To a right-wing TV host, he once said, about the pandemic, “This is all pre-planned by an elite group of people... [who want] to take control of our lives.” Fits right in. As does Lauren Boebert, about whom a wag once said, “Lauren Boebert calling for the abolishment of the Dept of Education is like chlamydia speaking out against amoxicillin.” Not really relevant to the current discussion, but a welcome mood-lightener. Who they are, plainly, is lunacy personified. And they’re reelected for it.

Kangaroo Courtesan James Comer had more to say: Just when they were readying their proof of President Biden’s impeachable crimes, he whined, Garland made the special counsel announcement, derailing their plans. In ways dastardly but unspecified. Golly. Does that mean we’ll never hear their evidence?

Nor should we ignore servile Lindsey Graham, once a clear-eyed, factual critic of Trump, who just said of the Georgia indictments that Trump's fate "should be decided at the ballot box." Isn’t that what happened in 2020, Lindsey? Cruzing for another insurrection? Should all criminality be subject to public vote? Rob a bank, run for office. Lunacy.

Fani Willis’ indictment is devastating. It’s also moot. On Monday, when Trump promises to produce “conclusive” proof of his innocence, it all goes away. Hidden under Mike Lindell’s pillow all this time.

Update: Dang. He canceled his press conference. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Illegitimi Non Condescendum

As much as public education and non-white, non-male, non-Christian, non-heterosexual, or immigrant Americans, so we’re told, Trumpists hate being condescended to. So this column assumes that all such readers have fully familiarized themselves with and assimilated the contents of Jack Smith’s January Six indictment. Because they value enlightenment, they will have read it word for word. Or had it read to them. Or, in their pickups bearing Trump 2024 and F**k Biden flags, listened to the eight-track version narrated by Jason Aldean.

Having done so, they’ll have understood the lies behind Trump’s and his communals’ claims of criminalizing speech and thought. They’ve recognized that, like all of Trump’s and his media mouthpieces’ efforts at gaslighting, it’s the opposite. It begins, in fact, with clear statements that Trump has the right to continue his unbroken streak of lifelong lying, to his amygdala’s content. And they’ll have internalized this tidbit among many in the indictment: “Jan 3. When the Chairman and another advisor recommended that the Defendant take no action because Inauguration Day was only seventeen days away and any course of action could trigger something unhelpful, the Defendant calmly agreed, stating Yeah, you're right, it's too late for us...”

They’ll have understood why the indictment spends the first several of its forty-five pages enumerating the manifold times Trump was told his election lies were lies. And that it sources truth-telling, even from some people within his collection of cacoethic collaborators and many more outside; and the data on the basis of which he was so informed. If he still believed, he’s dangerously deranged and should be barred (!) from future office. If not, he’s a malignant liar who oughtn’t be trusted with a driver’s license, much less nuclear codes.

Nevertheless, the need to prove he believed he won (“all fifty states”) is, like the First Amendment claims, irrelevant; the indictment isn’t about either. It’s about using those lies, or psychoses, as the basis for creating buy-in to conspiracies to defraud the US government and its citizens; plotting to deprive voters of their Constitutional right to have their votes counted. Fraud, of course, is something of which Trump is even more of a practitioner than marital infidelity.

Nor is it protected speech. And, contrary to the declaration from the most recent of his revolving-door lawyers, who admitted attempting to overthrow an election is “a technical violation of the Constitution” but not “a violation of criminal law,” it IS. The consigliere also posited that since the unconstitutional fake elector cabal failed, it was merely “aspirational,” of no legal import. Like a bank robbery thwarted by calling the cops.

Less implicit in the indictment, probably still working its way through neuro-Trumpic pathways to their cerebral cortices, is debunkery of the notion that indicting a former “president” makes America a “banana republic.” Comes Mister Tallyman to tally they banana: Were we such a nation, Trump would have been rounded up long since, imprisoned without trial, left in solitary confinement till the next revolution. Prior to which, he might have been paraded, chained, through the town square, to jeers and taunts by the six-foot, seven-foot, eight-foot bunch.

But this is America. Trump’s crimes have been investigated for months, the vetted evidence therefrom presented to a grand jury of ordinary citizens, who concluded there were grounds for indictment. And he’ll have a trial in which he can defend himself.

If these facts could theoretically be grasped by the undeserving-of-condescension, they’re unlikely to disabuse them of the belief that calling Trump to account for his crimes is senile, sleepy, but somehow evil genius Joe Biden taking down his prevailing political opponent. That there’s no evidence of presidential involvement is no more convincing to the MAGAnlightened than the lack of proof of electoral fraud. Or of President Biden’s over-hyped, under-happened criminality.

Likewise, Trump’s insistence that the indictment’s timing proves deliberate election interference because Special Prosecutor Smith could have presented it sooner, dismisses the many months of delays occasioned by Trump’s claims of executive privilege and ignoring of subpoenas. In fact, he could get past it at least a year before the 2024 election, simply by demanding the speedy trial to which he’s entitled, by law.

His newest media-flooding lawyer also wants a venue change to West Virginia, because it’s “more diverse” (wink, wink) than D.C. The reality? West Virginia: 92% White, 3% Black; DC: 40% White, 45% Black. It seems Trump is deliberately choosing idiot lawyers to strengthen his case for innocence by virtue of following bad legal advice.

If the preceding amounts only to desperation and baseless, losing arguments, there’s a powerful case Trump has yet to make: Given his childish, schoolyard insults hurled hourly on “Truthless Sociopathic,” including whining that Nancy Pelosi was being “mean” when she called him a “scared puppy,” he could legitimately argue it’s a miscarriage of justice to try him as an adult.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Indictment, Shmimdictment

Tuesday’s long-awaited, overdue, thoroughly justified indictment for Trump’s crimes against the Constitution and all Americans, including conservatives, won’t change minds. Unconvinced? Then you haven’t watched interviews at his rallies. Actual quotes:

“He could murder someone on the White House steps and it wouldn’t bother me.” “He loves America. (Except for its form of government.) No president has done as much for us.” (True, if, by “us” is meant people given permission to hate the LGBTQ community, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, Democrats, and wokeness (whatever that is). “The election was stolen.” Then why is there no proof? “Because the deep state (whatever that is) covered it up.” “I don’t like Biden’s economic policies.” Which ones? “I can’t think of any right now, but...” Spoken by a finance-major president of Young Republicans. “I love his Christian values.” No examples given. “He never lies.” Said a parentally-groomed pre-teen. Truth, as they say, is still putting on its pants.

Including discussions of using the military to stay in power, little in the indictment was unknown. People able to discern facts and separate them from 24/7/666 lies recognized long ago that Trump was and remains a danger to democracy. He’s announced it, after all, promising to rid the country of “Marxists, radical leftists, and communists,” the definitions of which and distinctions between remain undefined. “Democrats,” is what he means. People who resist him. Rectifying his January 6 failure, consolidating power, he’ll eliminate fraud-free mail-in voting and all dedicated public employees, too.

Like the quoted royalists and millions of MAGAs not interviewed, those that haven’t seen through Trump’s lies never will. The results of the 2024 elections are already carved in stone. Not yet revealed, they’re nevertheless as solid as Mount Rushmore, to which Trump will add his likeness if he wins, after subtracting the liberties of half of our fellow Americans.

Which is why the happier half loves him: Their awareness of the implications is as tenuous as ten-pound line reeling a whale. Example: a recent NYT/Sienna poll indicates that ninety-one percent of Republicans who get their news from Fox "news" believe Trump has committed no crimes. His validation of their victimhood and hoped-for vengeance eclipses all else, no matter how impactful on their own lives: climate change, wealth and opportunity inequities, educated children, a healthy future for their descendants. Doesn’t matter.

Given the indicated immutability of the inevitable, let’s address other issues. Worried that Trump’s delusionals are outnumbered by Biden’s rationals, House Republicans, despite recurrent rake-stepping, lacking anything else to offer, continue to focus on clearly troubled, never White-Housed (cf: Javanka) Hunter Biden. Their latest witness, an indicted felon and, unrelated, former partner of H. B., offered testimony that deflated every claim of collusion with and bribery of President Biden. No problem: Republicans simply claimed the opposite. And why not? Amplified by their disinformative media, it works.

Grabbing opportunity like Trump does genitalia, they claimed testimony of several phone calls between father and son after the death of son and brother proves perfidy. In the party of family values, family supporting family through tragedy is, evidently, unimaginable

Remember when, pre-insurrection, Trump wanted to order the US military to attack protesting US citizens, but was thwarted by generals who believed in the Constitution? Senator Tuberville (R-Football) is currently blocking military promotions at the general officer level. Could it be collusion with Trump to allow him to appoint ones who’d agree to command what would amount to a dictator’s private army? Michael Flynn, maybe?

Not unrelated is Trump’s increasing disparagement of Ukraine, attended by his followers’ increasing support for Russia. A quid for another round of Putin’s pro-Trump election quo?

Undaunted by serial investigatory fiascos, House Republicans are still talking impeachment of President Biden. Clueless, impervious to embarrassment as House Democrats meticulously stripped credibility from each of their previous witnesses, they might still realize what will happen if they go through with it. Let’s hope not. Their speculative accusations, still free of credible proof, will be shredded by Democrats and the witnesses they call. Like Rudy Giuliani’s former go-fer, Lev Parnas, who has intimate knowledge of the falsehood of Republican mythology of Burisma/Biden/Biden bribery, and has said so. Oh, please don’t fling Joe into the briar patch! 

Re-speaking of climate change, about the daily record-breaking planetary heat of which leading Republicans have said, “It’s called summer,” here’s what to expect if they take charge: “Project 2025,” likely backed by their flagitious fossil fuel financiers, would “block expansion of the electrical grid...; slash funding for the EPA...; shutter the Energy Department’s renewable energy offices; prevent states from adopting California’s car pollution standards; and delegate more regulation of polluting industries to Republican state officials.” 

It covers undoing limits on presidential power, too. You have to really hate democracy and not care about your children and grandchildren to be okay with that. Which, as we’ve seen, perfectly fits the “MAGA” mentality. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

People, Not Parchment


Democracy is only as good as the people in it. Parchmented prescriptives have no plenary power. If it’s possible to enforce the law when individuals are involved, a two-party system crumbles when one party chooses to ignore it, as policy. Which is what’s happening now, and has been for decades of Republican devolution; turned to eleven since the “election” of Trump; more so after his subsequent fraud-free, Constitutionally-certified loss.

Alabama’s legislature and governor have brought home the truth of it. Ordered by the Supreme Court of the United States to redraw their racially gerrymandered voting districts, mandating that, in a state in which Blacks represent over twenty-five percent of the population, they must create at least two, not the current one Black-majority district, they defiantly refused. “We know our state better than people in Washington,” paraphrased their governor, confederately. “We,” by the way, are these people.

In refusing the order, Alabama bird-fingered their Trump-friendly, carefully constructed, Constitution-ignoring, law-reversing, bench-legislating Court. Their lack of power to enforce their rulings now exposed, the reactionary majority on SCOTUS had previously considered themselves free to make whatever untethered rulings for which they were appointed, because they could. And because they knew that, unlike today’s Trumpublicans and their blood-red statehouses, Democrats, believing in Constitutional governance, would comply. They being the good people in our democracy, as referenced in this column’s opening statement.

Picking up the baton of belligerence, Texas Governor Abbott refused a DOJ order to remove his deadly and clearly illegal floating barricades from the Rio Grande. As far from constitutional conservatism as they are from the moon, today’s Republicans act as if the only laws that apply are those with which they agree. And they’ve convinced their self-pitying acolytes to feel the same. Whatever their leaders do is okay, as long as it “sticks it to” the right people. 

They won’t have to bother much longer, as both Trump and DeSantis promise to “eliminate liberalism.” Not yet clarified is how; but America may not have enough prison camps and gas chambers when they do. Maybe they’ll enslave liberals and teach them life skills. MAGA.

Trumpism is devoted to convincing white, metaphorically-cuckolded males that voting for Trump will provide vengeance for their inevitable loss of primacy. Constantly bombarded by lies about turning their kids gay, mutilating them and changing their gender, about educational brainwashing and woke Mickeys, happy to have their kids grow up lacking knowledge of history and science, they welcome the Trumpic march to oligarch-funded, scapegoat-blaming autocracy. Conjoined not in spite of; because of.

Nor are they able to see what’s behind this relentless march: string-pulling polluters and carbon producers seeking free rein, through their paid-for judges and wholly-owned congress-dwellers, to lie about and ignore the most critical problem we face as humans: climate change. Too conspiratorial? Follow the money, as they say. As long as they can despoil for profit, they’ll keep bankrolling MAGA Republicans and their leader, a lying, law-breaking, despot-emulating, climate-change-denying deceiver. 

And so it goes: Simultaneously railing against “liberal cancel-culture,” Trumpists are boycotting Bud Lite for its one-time, blink-and-it’s-gone online ad featuring transgendered Dylan Mulvaney.  Appearing so briefly that approximately none could have seen its original posting, it drove them calculatedly crazy. And now, the greatest outrage of them all, so existentially ominous that Ted Cruz, unconcerned for people in his state dying from heat stroke, ERs flooded with the not-yet-dead, and people drowning under Abbott’s death-buoys, has declared righteous war on it: THE BARBIE MOVIE. Top of the list. Fox “news” stars are all in, too.

An unapologetically racist and misogynist right-wing icon, Ben Shapiro filmed himself barbequing Barbies and their accouterments. This was after seeing the movie and noting that the audience was only six- to eight-year-old girls and their young mothers. Was his anger the only thing rising? Performative indignation notwithstanding, the movie is breaking box-office records.

As inexplicable as undying support for Trump, MAGA folk continue to fall for those distractions, swallowing lies about open borders, failing economy, rising crime. In fact, America’s economic recovery is dramatically more robust than anywhere in the world; manufacturing is so strong that Morgan Stanley, explicitly crediting Bidenomics, has revised upward their predictions of GDP growth. 

Following President Biden’s policies on asylum, illegal border crossings are at their lowest in two years; interdictions of drugs are at all-time highs. Murder is down nine-percent over last year; all violent crime is declining. Inflation, which, at its worst, was never as high as Europe’s, is now a third of what it was. Unemployment is at historical lows; rising wages are outpacing inflation, consumer confidence is soaring. Thousands of infrastructure projects are under way, creating millions of jobs. 

Facing factuality, Republican leaders have realized that defeating Joe Biden requires lies and distractions, voter suppression, and financing stealth third parties. And, sure, why not: impeachment, solid as cotton candy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Not Logical

Six-week fetal-heartbeat bans, to another of which Iowa has just given birth, make neither physiological nor religious sense. Put a shelled peanut in your palm. It’s only a little bigger than a six-week embryo. Tiny, is the point, such that it should be possible, if not to agree, at least to understand how some people might consider it different from a fetus, much less a fully-formed, recognizable baby in utero.

At that stage, a “heartbeat” is a collection of brand-new heart-muscle cells contracting in unison. But, since arteries and veins are only beginning to form, they’re doing none of the work that hearts are there to do. In what way, therefore, does that detectible six-week proto-myocardial activity constitute a meaningful end-point for terminating a pregnancy? A throwback, maybe, to ancient times, pre-Bible, when the soul, the self, was thought to reside in the heart? A working one, presumably.

If the timeline of embryogenesis provides useful markers for legal abortion, might it more reasonably be when something akin to the human brain is present? Isn’t that what sets us apart? At six weeks, the neural tube is developing, but it’s nothing like a brain. 

Absent that, how does a “heartbeat” define a human, as separate from other developing mammals, from whose embryos at that stage, a difference can’t be distinguished? The only “logical,” consistent position for anti-choice people who consider a fertilized egg equivalent to a baby, is banning abortion from the moment of fertilization. That, at least, in some sense of the word, is logical. Proposed bans on birth control fit right in.

Speaking of logic, we should acknowledge, as written here in the past, that at least a third of fertilized eggs and embryos die spontaneously – or, for those who believe that He has a plan and knows us before we’re born, at God’s hand. The scientific term for “miscarriage” is, in fact, “spontaneous abortion.” In His handiwork, we should also include stillbirths and post-partum deaths from unsurvivable birth defects.

While there are no laws making God’s reproductive interventions illegal, in several red states women must prove they did nothing to induce a miscarriage if it happens, or be considered an imprisonable felon. Proving a negative, in other words, which is impossible. And they’d be criminals if they were to leave their state to obtain a legal abortion. It’s the, you know, limited government thing.

Speaking of abandoning logic, or, more properly, truth, you’ll be hard-pressed (a term of mysterious origin, first used in 1707 – I was curious) to find a Republican presidential candidate who isn’t pushing the stupendous lie that Democrats are for abortion up to the moment of birth. Beyond, even, according to some, including Ron DeSantis. Which puts the whole anti-choice movement, at least as applies to Republican legislators and seekers of office, into perspective: Like all of their lies on loop, it’s a disingenuous signal to their voters, susceptible as they are to all similarly mendacious miscarriages of truth. In fact, it’s safe to say – because some have admitted it when discovered – that many anti-choice advocates have previously availed themselves, meaning their mistresses and consorts, of the procedure.

It’s not unlike Clarence Thomas, having taken personal advantage of affirmative action, pulling up the ladder (or, in this analogy, the curette) behind him. If there were time limits on Non-Disclosure Agreements, it’s a safe bet we’d know of others. Including one who’s on his pre-candidacy record claiming to be pro-choice. For easily-understood reasons.

Forced-birth minds won’t be changed by this or any other commentary. So let’s mention other ways in which Trumpublicans are determined to make the world more dangerous.

In Florida, a state among the highest in pandemic death rates, Brevard County Republicans declared Covid vaccines “biological weapons” that must be outlawed across the entire state. In Texas, unchristian Governor Abbott has deployed deadly barricades of spiked buoys in the Rio Grande, which will purposely kill people trying to cross. This he justifies because of President Biden’s “open border policy,” which doesn’t exist. But the lie does, and it encourages people who believe it to come to the border. And die, if the Abbot-toir works as designed.

In DC, pretty much every Republican characterizes Trump’s current and imminent indictments as purely political, notwithstanding his illegal taking and lying about classified documents and planning an insurrection. He’s still lying about the Presidential Records Act. “Criminalizing political disagreement,” is what they call it. I won’t mention the NYT article describing Trump’s post-election plans to turn the presidency into a dictatorship, exactly as MAGA Republicans hope. 

But let’s end on a happier note. Michigan’s Attorney General just issued felony indictments to all sixteen participants in Trump’s anti-democracy, pre-dictator, fake-elector scheme. And Marjorie Taylor Greene has narrated the most effective pro-Biden political ad to date. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Cometh The Savior, Again

Clearly produced by a randomly-editing, drug-addicted monkey, a video released by Ron DeSantis’ campaign is equal parts homophobic, homoerotic, anti-Trump, incomprehensible, and one hundred percent bizarre. No wordled description can convey its mystifying content. It must be seen.  

Asked for comment, openly-gay Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg responded thus: "I'm going to leave aside the strangeness of trying to prove your manhood by putting up a video that splices images of you in between oiled-up, shirtless bodybuilders..." Then he got down to it, the defining question of the 2024 campaign; one that must be asked of every Trumpublican, which includes all candidates no matter how they do or don’t defend Trump. They all repeat his lies and attacks on otherness, offering nothing substantive: “Who are you trying to help," asked Pete, "Who are you trying to make better off, and what public policy problems do you get up in the morning thinking about how to solve?” To which he provided compelling examples of what President Biden, he, and others in the administration have done; and what Democrats stand for. 

That ought to be the motivating question for all politicians: what are you for, as opposed to what and whom you’re against? In what ways do you intend to make life better, and for whom?

Trump made his policy emptiness even clearer than DeSantis in a campaign ad in which he walks resolutely toward the camera, a grim-faced, stony savior of the self-pitying and fearful, to the sound of his voice reciting, biblically, with cheers in the background, “This is the final battle. With you at my side, we will abolish the Deep State. We will expel the warmongers from our government. We will drive out the globalists. We will cast out the communists, Marxists, and fascists. We will throw off the sick political class that (ed note: projection alert) hates our country. We will rout the fake news media. And we will liberate America from these villains once and for all.” 

Wow. Fascism, cubed. Plus Stalinist purges. Scapegoats. Mortal enemies. No free press. No independently-thinking, experienced government employees. Made-up monsters for haters to hate. It’s a campaign brazenly pushing fear and grievance, lacking anything positive for anyone, except revenge for those shadowy threats his voters have been made to believe, through relentless lies. “Deep state.” “Communists.” Marxists and (projection alert #2) fascists. The cheering says it all: Trumpism is nasty, projectile negativity, the promise of apocalyptic vengeance against id-iot nightmares. It’s why they love him.

Trump and his congressional personifiers call upon the worst of us and it’s answered with enthusiasm from the depths of Trumpistic animus. If DeSantis’ video was more obtuse, his message was the same. It’s about destroying certain people, not building anyone up.

It’s also why Trump pretends his two indictments (so far) are badges of honor: “They want to take away my freedom because I’ll never let them take away your freedom.” To which a former RNC Chairman, from when the last shreds of integrity hadn’t yet been dispatched with prejudice from his party, responded, “What utter bullshit.” If Trump sold crucifixes bearing his suffering image replacing Jesus, the cultists would pay any price, and wear them as talismans of their fealty. But how might they process his words, spoken when running against Secretary/Senator Hillary Clinton, regarding her over-hyped, under-illegal emails? “If she were to win under felony indictment it would grind the government to a halt and create a constitutional crisis."

The answer, of course, is they wouldn’t care. Any room for dissonance in their headedness has been displaced by bone; logic and facts are distractions, if noticed at all. Which is why their candidates and alreadys can project a world opposite to reality, believed by their irremediably Foxified legions.

“We’re a nation in decline,” says Matt Gaetz, expecting, presumably, our radicalized Supreme Court to remedy it by continuing to promote Christian nationalism, removing Constitutional protections from everyone else.

“OUR ECONOMY IS IN SHAMBLES,” all-capsed Trump. Tim Scott, supposedly a rational Republican candidate, declared, inverting reality like an hourglass, “Three years ago, our economy was thriving. Today, we’re all worse off." By no metric is that remotely true.

But, counting on cultivated incuriosity, he’ll be believed, against facts as available as air, that Trump inherited a failing economy and left it in great shape. It’s a lie as big as Trump’s stolen-election bogosity, turning truth on its head

Running as retributive messiahs, Trump and DeSantis are sides of the same counterfeit coin. Meanwhile, Republicans who voted against President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which plays a central role in the unequaled recovery our economy is experiencing, greater than any other country (including lower and lowering inflation), are rushing to take credit when money from the bill arrives in their districts to fund important, job-producing projects; more in red states than blue. In a rational universe, they’d be laughed off the stage

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Full Of Schiff


Hinting time off last week was a case of premature evacuation. At the time, a national disgrace second only to Electoral Colleging Trump into a popular-vote-losing “presidency” had barely happened. Specifically, the action taken by the most dishonest, cowardly, hypocritical, craven, conspiracy-believing, election-lie promoting, violent insurrection excusing, enemy supporting, legislatively inert collection of Republican representatives in the history of America. None had the integrity presumed by the creators of our Constitution to condemn censuring Representative Adam Schiff. Too harsh? None. 

Led by an invertebrate “Speaker,” they lacked the constitution to resist threats from a twice-impeached, twice-indicted, proven liar; a court-ordered payer of restitution for online scams (still scamming), absconding bankrupter, daddied draft-dodger, disability-mocking, convicted sex offender; a document-stealing defiler of the Presidential Records Act, killer of thousands by pandemic dereliction, and calculated corrupter of democracy. Out of 215, not one. Standing for nothing, sheeped by his threat to primary anyone who’d vote no, they caved like Carlsbad. How long till we hear, “I was just following orders”?

Awaiting trial for thirteen counts of fraud, George Santos said his vote was “to preserve the integrity of the House.” (The Herald arrives late now; hopefully no readers were drinking coffee when they read that.) No censure for him. None for Marjorie Taylor Greene, who said of President Biden, “You’re not a president. You’re a piece of s##t.” (She spelled it out.) Instead, Kevin McCarthy made her Speaker Pro Tempore.

Her disrespectful filth was, no doubt, greeted joyously by her gerrymandees and MAGA Republicans everywhere. It’s who they are and what we’ve become, post Trump: half a nation so impervious to truth that school board members resign after threats over non-existent teaching of CRT; poll workers quit in fear after mortal intimidation by believers in Trump’s election lies; where even weathermen leave after death threats for reporting accurately on climate change. So of course they target a man despoiling their golden idol with the patina of truth.

The Republican Declaration of Dependence begins by lying that Representative Schiff lied about Trump’s collusion with Russia, goes on to accuse him of breaking up families (because, well, because ... something), ends with a requirement that, if charged by the “Ethics” Committee, he pay a sixteen-million-dollar fine. Such are the decaying entrails of a party that once, putting country first, told Nixon to resign or be impeached and removed. Must we re-state the broad-daylight collusion that took place? Must we, yet again, explain what the Muller report did and didn’t say about it?

Mr. Schiff’s impermissible transgression was meticulously unclothing the emperor, stripping him clean. The hallucinatory charges against him can be read here. Trumpists seeking Schiff’s eloquent response will find it here

Not satisfied with censuring the most effective exposer of Trump’s crimes, which they did BECAUSE of his effectiveness, House Rs, with the approval of their semi-gluteal speaker, are moving to expunge Trump’s two impeachments, undeterred by the legal impossibility. As they’ll soon vote to impeach President Biden for turning around the sinking economy, raging pandemic, and staggering deficits Trump left him with, they’ll line up for that, too.

The impeachments garnered bipartisan support, if anyone remembers; the second barely fell short of conviction in the Senate. Which is why they’d erase it, a burnt offering to their false prophet, groveling for his imprimatur, even as he treats them and their voters with a despot’s disregard for truth.

If the Republic survives Trumpism, historians may never unravel how the party of Lincoln came under the thrall of a life-long liar, an amoral, delusional, authoritarian-lite like Trump, who downplayed the pandemic, tarnished America’s standing in the world, and created fully a third of the total national debt; who coddled Earth’s worst dictators; who’s still lying about elections and stolen documents. How will historians explain Republicans cowering before a man like that?

Meanwhile, as those soulless sycophants scramble to save their sacred simulacrum from sentencing, an ex-FBI agent was ordered to prison for four years under the same Espionage Act as Trump’s charges, for the same crimes; except she didn’t lie about taking documents, flaunt them, force others to break the law, or ignore subpoenas.

Decades ago, our democracy functioned by having two responsible political parties, opposing, but equally principled. It can’t continue when one has devolved into nothing but meretricious vindictiveness. Name a piece of legislation they’ve produced, let alone became law, that benefits average Americans; anything but “stick-it-to-the-libs,” “get-me-on-Foxmax” vacuity. Yeah, me neither.

House Republicans have acted disgracefully since they squeaked into majority. It’s not just the disgracefulness that’s disgraceful: it’s how proud they and their voters are of it. The more Trump lies, the more crimes he commits, the further they lower themselves to defend him, placing party stratospherically above country. In censuring Adam Schiff, they dishonor themselves and America. Count on much worse to come.

Prose too purple? We need more purple, not less.

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