Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
The Biden documents thing is maddening, disappointing, frustrating. The obverse is that, for people as-yet unacquainted with the hypocrisy of Republican electeds and their media mouths, it provides an enlightening introductory course. Hypocrisy 101.
The best that can be said about President Biden’s situation is that it was careless. Unlike Trump’s, there’s no evidence (so far) of criminal intent, the critical criterion for prosecution. In fact, we only know about it because upon discovery, Biden did everything the law demands. Trump, by contrast, denied, lied, refused, excused, ignored, and stored; forcing FBIntervention.
But those differences don’t matter to the McCarthyite hostage-takers of Congress, who are in strategic, stratospheric dudgeon. Even higher are their media. Both, in times unmentioned, did everything possible to transport Trump’s criminality to Nothingburg, calling it a fake, partisan affair, saying he had every right to do what he did. Does that define hypocrisy? Answer correctly, show your work, pass the course.
If there’s a process for keeping track of classified government documents, it doesn’t work. If President Biden, now or as VP, checked out the documents as (you’d think) required, why wasn’t their non-return noted years ago? The ineffectiveness of whatever system exists, or doesn’t, needs critical attention. Who knows, after all, what Jared Kushner gave China and Saudi Arabia in return for the billions he got from them? And, as General Kelly worried, what secrets Trump shared, with whom and for what purpose. Or allowed easy access to at Security-sieve-a-Lago, as has been suggested.
Because the two are separate, the to-be-determined but unlikely criminality of President Biden’s situation ought to play no role in the decision to prosecute Trump for his. That it might is what makes it so maddening, disappointing, and frustrating.
Therefore, preserving mental health, let’s consider another lesson with which the Republican Party has schooled us: the same party that, in the receding shadows of times past, got Richard Nixon to resign. It’s not mysterious why they’re refusing to chastise or expel George Santos. Who volleyballed so hard at a school he never attended that, unlike anyone else who ever played the game, he had to have both knees replaced. Maybe it was while recuperating from those operations that he became a leading contributor to the technology of carbon capture.
Penalizing or expelling a man whose election depended on outrageous lies would be akin to praising Liz Cheney, a definitional, true conservative, for telling the truth. They can’t. It would call into question everything about the perfidious path they’ve taken to get where they are. Even more impossible, it would require abrogating their acceptance of Trump’s endless stream of lies, beginning decades before winning the Electoral College, after which his mendacity led, demonstrably, to thousands of lost lives; especially, ironically, among his believers.
Truthfulness about their agenda is Republican legislators’ enemy: more tax cuts for the wealthy, cutting benefits for regular people, ending actions to mitigate climate change (that they state honestly, but it’s based on the homicidal lie that climate change is fake and fossil fuels are harmless). Because most Americans disagree with everything Republicans propose, the party recognizes the primacy of falsehoods to win votes. Case in point, as mentioned in last week’s column: fulfilling a hard-pushed, nationwide campaign promise, their very first legislative action was based on their thoroughly debunked IRS lie.
Less outlandish but no less effective than George Santos', such lies got them elected. He lies about himself; they lie about everything else. Especially Trump’s Big One, leading to aggressive and effective voter suppression, about which they’ve taken to bragging.
Sometimes it feels like piling on poor George, though, as his lies bespeak a pathologically unwell mind. They flow through him like water from a burst dam. He should receive therapy, not security clearance, and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near legislation. Not even Trump’s confabulations are as bizarre.
Republican legislative item number two was based on an even more contemptible lie: imaginary infanticide. Killing babies born alive after a failed abortion or with unsurvivable birth defects. Already illegal. Doesn’t happen. But, because they know their voters will believe any lie that stokes preprogrammed outrage, they touted their bill against the nonexistent as if they’d solved cold fusion.
Following suit, Arkansas’ new Governor Sanders’ first act was banning nonexistent CRT in schools. Shameless. And they’ve just put election deniers, 9/11 hoaxers, white supremacist coddlers, space laser believers, and insurrectionists on the House Homeland Security Committee. How reassuring.
These are dangerous people, trading in lies, protecting liars, inflaming believers to violence. Next, we’ll learn whether they’re willing to cause worldwide economic collapse by using the debt ceiling to push their self-enriching, regular-American-harming goals. Predictions?
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
It’s common at this time of year
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Last weekend featured the explosive, mind-blowing, scandalous, earth-shaking, unimaginably horrifying news that pre-Musk Twitter, following concomitantly-revealed discussions of its published content guidelines, agreed to a request from pre-president Biden’s campaign to remove pornographic photos and questionably-sourced Hunter Biden emails. They also took down a link (for one day!) to a newspaper story about Hunter. Not the story. A link. The article was and remains in the public domain.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
If, in a few hundred years, historians (assuming humans still exist) seek to understand the fall of the Republican party, followed closely by the fall of the United States, they’d find it perfectly encapsulated in the murders, a couple of weeks ago, in a Colorado LGBT nightclub. It’s all there.
Increasingly desperate for a hook on which to reel in voters for whom they’ve had nothing to offer, legislatively, ever since electing Ronald Reagan, leaders and media mouthpieces of that once-respectable party have turned to denigration. Aimed at the LGBT community, immigrants, people of color, and, just reaffirmed down Mar-a-Lago way, Jews. Except in a couple of states, Trump’s voter fraud lie is losing appeal, so attacking non-straight, non-white, non-Christian, non-native-born people it is.
Whenever hate crimes are committed against those groups, the flame-fanners deny responsibility. Tucker Carlson makes millions pushing lies about “grooming” children. Screaming Marjorie Taylor Greene and gun-slinging Coloradan Lauren Boebert get elected on it. Ron DeSantis hopes to become president on it. Rightwing media marinate in it. But when someone takes their hideous mendacity seriously and does some murdering about it, the well-rehearsed response from the purveyors is “Who, me?” Followed, when culpability is suggested, by cries of “politicizing a tragedy.”
How deeply embedded is their incendiary, malevolent anti-LGBT rhetoric? The father of the murderer, himself a former porn star, said this on hearing what his son had done: “… I go on to find out it’s a gay bar. I got scared, 'S#!t, is he gay?' And he’s not gay, so I said, phew… I’m a conservative Republican and we don’t do gay.” Phew, indeed. Just an assassin. To a Foxified “conservative Republican,” there’s worse, evidently. Data for historians.
A war veteran, and Hispanic, the man who took down the shooter was there with his wife, adult daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend (who was among those murdered). After what he’d seen and done in combat, he’d sworn off guns; took the guy down bare-handed.
This embarrassed the good-guy-with-a-gun (and white-supremacist) crowd, who, rather than praising him as they did delusional, self-righteous killer Kyle Rittenhouse, attacked him for bringing his family to a drag show. Because, you know, something-something drag shows. Had he stopped the massacre with a gun, he’d have been all over rightwing media; offered jobs, encouraged to run for office. Like Rittenhouse.
Colorado has “red flag” laws. The shooter had previously exhibited numerous red-flag behaviors. But, having declared his county a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” the local sheriff, along with several others in other Colorado counties (and now, sadly, some in neighboring Oregon) had pledged not to enforce those laws. And didn’t. Historians take note.
Adding to the historical record came the aftermath. Uber-monger Tucker had on his show a woman with this to say: “… the tragedy that happened in Colorado Springs the other night, it was expected and predictable.” Was she referring to Tucker’s previous tirades? Of course not. “I don’t think it’s going to stop until we end this evil agenda that is attacking children,” she added, referring to helping trans children, all but excusing the motives of the criminal.
Former Trump attorney, Jenna Ellis, chimed in with this about the victims: “… There is no evidence that they were Christians… They are now reaping the consequences of eternal damnation.” God sides with murderers, evidently. Historians may find that informative.
Which returns us to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump dined last week with outspoken antisemite Kanye West, along with white supremacist, holocaust denier, attendee of the Charlottesville “Jews will not replace us” rally, Nick Fuentes. Trump claims he had no idea who Fuentes was. He did, however, know Kanye’s antisemitic views, and invited him. By now he knows all about Fuentes, too. Has he disavowed him? Nope. Praised him. "He gets me."
At this point, some readers are composing letters accusing me of characterizing all Republicans as racist, homophobic, antisemitic, xenophobes. Rather than addressing their unacknowledged projection, let’s celebrate this week’s passage of the imperfect but important Respect for Marriage Act. Whereas seventy percent of senate Republicans voted no, around thirty percent said yes. Non-hateful Republicans do exist, and when they’re willing to partner with Democrats, it doesn’t require a majority of them to make good things happen.
Fox “news” and the rest of rightwing media are all in on grooming haters. So is Trump. Nothing will get those democracy-rejecting sheriffs and other no-regulation absolutists to listen to reason. But if actual conservatives would spend less time being offended by critics and more time working to change their unconservative party from within, Republican leadership might rejoin our democracy. And, in time, rid us of their traffickers in performative hate, ready to waste the next two years doing nothing but “sticking it to the libs.” Historians could study that happier phenomenon.
Monday, November 21, 2022
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Despite being mostly pleased, I find myself uninterested in commenting on Tuesday’s elections. Maybe next week. So here’s something corny I wrote, years ago, for an obscure medical publication:
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
Far be it from me to blame the attack on Paul Pelosi by a guy who posts typical Qanon/ Trumpofoxian blather, on people like Marjorie Taylor Green, who called Speaker Pelosi a traitor who should be executed; or Tucker Carlson, et Fox, who demonize her in the most inflammatory language; or Junior Trump comparing her to Satan.
Near be it to me to point out the despicable responses to the attack from fellow Americans on the right: False flag. Staged. A gay liaison gone wrong. Nancy’s fault. What about Steve Scalise? (About whom the satanic Speaker said at the time: "It's an injury in the family. For the staff and for our colleague and for his leadership. We cannot let that be a victory for the assailant or anyone who would think that way.”) The right-wing Pelosi response also featured gleeful mockery and what they consider hilarity, including from Trump spawn.
As it happens, the would-be kidnapper and torturer’s confessional isn’t hard to find. And the break-in was caught on camera; they debunk all the Trumpistry. But MAGARs prefer conspiratorial cruelty. Retractions? Apologies? Not who they are. Not who their leader is.
Our politics have become too toxic. It’s incumbent upon us all to tone down the rhetoric.
Is what people say. Extend a hand, readers advise. Seek common ground. I don’t dispute the premise, but where? Does Hawaiian ground seek commonality with Mauna Loa’s lava? In these, the times that gave us Trump, common ground has become scorched earth.
What more can be said to MAGA Republican election deniers, after all this time with zero evidence of fraud, that would change their minds? The outreaching of which hand might convince them that climate change is real, even as glaciers melt, fires rage, oceans warm and acidify, and storms and heat waves bring death worldwide? That there aren’t 87,000 new IRS agents coming for their middle-class money; that Democrats aren’t for “open borders”? That the transgressions of January Six weren’t patriotic?
If there’s been political violence on “both sides,” there’s no equivalence, no comparable approval or fomenting from the left. In the past twenty years, there have been 122 political murders by right-wing American terrorists; by the left, one. Two-hundred sixty-seven right-wing plots or attacks since 2015; 66 by lefty extremists. Nor is there equivalence in the lies coming from each side, including from the very top; or asking crowds to beat up protestors, promising to pay legal fees. Or in whose media conspiracy theories and other falsehoods spread like herpes. Only Trump has called America “Rigged, Crooked, and Evil.”
The explanation isn’t difficult: in Trumpistan, democracy is the ultimate foe. Also, it’s too hard. Autocracy is easy.
For democracies to endure, citizens must accept two most basic requirements: first, that voters make the effort to educate themselves about their political world. Which, in today’s calamitous climate, means ceaseless effort to extricate singular truths from multitudinous lies.
Second, the lifeblood of functioning democracies – no longer of interest to MAGA Republicans and their propagandistic progenitors – is willingness to accept electoral, legislative, and judicial outcomes with which one disagrees. Including support for the peaceful, post-election transfer of power. Which is not to suggest remaining silent or forgoing working to effect change.
Because that’s the thing about democracies: not everyone agrees with you, and sometimes they win. MAGA is code for “return all power to white Christian males.” As that goal is threatened by our Constitutionally-mandated democratic processes, Trumpists are attempting to end them. Election denial is democracy rejection. It’s not mysterious.
The hard work of democracy affords little time off, whereas submitting to authoritarianism is a full-time vacation from responsibilities of citizenship. Go to rallies, thrill to the stoking. Trust your deified leader to tell you what to think, who’s your enemy, whom to blame for your failures; who’s your inferior, trying to take what you have. Or had, before that voting thing. Which must be repudiated, along with the undesirables it empowers. It’s history, in repetition mode.
And it’s Trump’s greatest con. And R leaders’. And every right-wing media star’s. Convincing millions who think they love this country to reject its indispensable Constitutional principles, while believing they’re upholding them. Accepting intentional destruction of democracy-preserving public education and fair elections. Persuaded to extinguish democracy, assured that, in doing so, they’re saving themselves. Ceding power (and riches) to Trumpic clones, who’ll protect them from not-them.
It's ironic. Once their preferred autocracy is established, they’ll have no more power than the ones from whom they think they regained it. Democracy, they’ll discover, is what kept them safe. It’s a lesson too late for the learning, made of lies, made of lies.
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