Friday, August 28, 2020

All They've Got

It’s doubtful Trumpists want their children and grandchildren to die of the carcinogens he has deregulated. Because it’s likely they share other human characteristics, too, we assume they, like the rest of us, prefer a livable planet for their progeny; unflooded cities, temperatures compatible with human life, oceans able to support sea life. 
If forced to make the choice, one can’t doubt most Trump voters would choose the health of their grandkids over the pleasure of seeing undocumented children in cages at our borders, shouting “Lock her up,” or calling Democrats stupid names.
It’s pretty certain that, faced with the known consequences, they’d rather see money spent on education, roads and bridges, sustainable energy – maybe even childcare and programs aimed at helping people overcome poverty – than on enriching the already rich and tax cuts that increase our national debt while doing little for everyone else. 
Those would be logical choices for any thoughtful person, if Fox “news” were turned down and Trump stopped tweeting long enough for people to hear themselves think.  
Though Trump’s capacity for empathy is congenitally absent, we presume it’s present in many of his previous voters. It’s possible they could come to understand how having large numbers of people struggling without hope is a threat to our economy, democracy, and, therefore, eventually to themselves. 
Willingness to think beyond the short-term and past their current cloistered comfort is all that’s required. The ability was once inseparable from American greatness. Their current unwillingness is what separates Trumpists from everyone else.  
The point is this: except for conspiracy theorists, the already-rich, and people who need someone to hate in order to validate themselves, there’s nothing at the core of today’s Republican Party to attract “regular” Americans. Party leaders know this. 
Which is why they’re focused on making voting as hard as possible for likely Democratic voters, and on pre-discrediting election results, should they lose. Not to mention turning attention away from their absence of ideas and toward the tiny part of our population throwing rocks at police.  
First, it was egregious gerrymandering. When some plans were struck down by courts, they turned to voter ID laws, aimed at disenfranchising minority voters “with surgical precision,” as an ethical judge wrote while disallowing North Carolina’s. 
Undaunted, encouraged by SCOTUS gutting the Voting Rights Act because there’s no racism, red states set about removing polling places in minority neighborhoods, forcing citizens to travel far and stand in line for hours.  
But they forgot about voting by mail, which circumvents their favorite suppression methods. Quickly, that time-tested, virtually fraud-proof way of voting, used for decades by US citizens overseas, especially military members, and by several states, was declared corrupt. Despite being used by Trump et uxor and White House staffers, including those repeating his lies about it.  
Ah, but Trump came up with an answer to that, too: unable to force states to abandon vote-by-mail (he’s suing some), he called upon another ultra-rich, inexperienced donor; this time to delay mail by gutting capacity. 
Now, seeing states distributing ballot drop-off boxes that don’t require the USPS, he’s lying about them, too. Classic Trump: claiming Democrats are trying to “steal the election,” when it’s he and his doing just that.  
Not satisfied with Republican plans to deploy intimidating “poll watchers,” (and affirming his disregard for the Constitution), Trump threatened to send troops to polling places, too; sowing distrust of voting and Squaring the circle of repression he’s been employing since day one. As in Red- and Tiananmen-Squaring.  
They’ve admitted they have nothing else. In remarkable capitulation, Republicans wrote no party platform for this election other than pledging unconditional, abject fealty to Dear Leader. They’ll run on the fact that he kept the Obama recovery going (till he didn’t), neglecting to mention that, unlike President Obama, Trump did so by way of exploding deficits and damaging deregulation. 
Otherwise, as their convention demonstrated, it’ll be Trumples all the way down: ignoring the current economic pain of millions and the consequential future problems we face, in favor of peddling fear of, hate for, and lies about Democrats. By the outhouse-full. Plus “up-is-down” fabrications about the pandemic and the economy.
The contrast with the DNC was stark, as Trumpists set aside reality, literally calling Trump their savior. It’s beyond a cult: it’s religion turned upside down. Under Trump, Republicans have become prostrate idolaters, eschewing positive ideas in favor of outright lies. Trump’s incendiary doomsday demagoguery ties directly to the violence we’re seeing from rightwing militias. 
Calling him “the savior of Western civilization,” Trumpists are, in fact, all but ensuring its downfall. Cheering Trump’s flagrant, confident mendacity and his televised law-breaking, their convention proved it.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

What's At Stake

How inured we’ve become to Trump’s atrocities. The Republican-majority Senate Intelligence Committee just released its final report on Trump/Russia, and it’s been practically ignored, especially by Republicans. 
It’s damning. They concluded Trump and Roger Stone lied to Robert Mueller, and that Trump’s first campaign manager “represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” and did business with “a Russian intelligence officer.”
The Republican-led investigation also concluded the White House “significantly hampered” their efforts, and coordinated the testimony of witnesses before they appeared. It found that WikiLeaks, with which Roger Stone was conspiring on behalf of Trump, was “knowingly collaborating with Russian government officials.” It stated that Trump’s campaign encouraged and received Russian help in electing him, and are doing it again. Collusion.  
Knowing all this, Republican members of the committee still voted to deny Democratic requests for witnesses during impeachment, continuing a traitorous perjurer’s squatters-rights to the Oval Office. “Ho,” say Trumpists, “hum.” The friend of our enemy is our friend, too.  
We know what’s at stake. The surprisingly watchable “virtual” Democratic Convention made it clear: decency vs. indecency; common cause vs. deliberate division; compassion vs. cruelty; DACA vs. border cages; addressing climate change vs. making it worse; celebrating vs. demonizing diversity; inspiration vs. invective; science vs. conspiracy theories. Empathy vs. sociopathy. In short: America’s best vs. Trumpism.  
“I thought it was divisive,” said Trump of Michelle Obama’s heartfelt speech. Said the man who claims liberals want to destroy you; calls journalists enemies of the people; urged “liberation” of covid-fighting Democrat-run states; leads chants to imprison opponents, urges violence at rallies, calls neo-Nazis “very fine people;” who retweets a call to “… Let [Democratic cities] rot.” (Rule of thumb, fingers, and palm: when Trump accuses someone of something, it’s he who’s doing it.)  
After four years of so-called conservatives condoning Trump’s lies and incompetence, coddling dictators and insulting friends, making Americans unwelcome and pitied worldwide, suckered by China and North Korea – and much more -- no one imagines Joe Biden can completely heal us. Those still supporting Trump’s demagoguery will never heed President Biden’s calls for clarity and compassion. 
But whereas Trump would continue to stoke acrimony and alienation, Joe Biden will try to rid us of them. Only those who need someone to hate would miss it; only those unwilling to pull together as Americans to face our increasingly challenging future would turn away.  
Just from last week, here’s more proof of November's importance:  
  • Having pig-headedly reneged on the Iran nuclear agreement because Obama, Trump implored nations to renew the arms embargo against it. You no longer matter, they said. In an unprecedented, humiliating defeat for the US, they rejected Trump’s plea; whatever good might come from the UAE/Israel accord is on even shakier ground. 
  • Trump finalized plans to drill in ANWR, one of America’s most pristine and environmentally fragile places. Simultaneously, he reversed President Obama’s regulation of methane, the worst of greenhouse gases. It’s as if he wants to burn us down on his way out.    
  • When reminded there’s no evidence of mail-in ballot fraud, Trump’s Chief of Staff said lack of evidence is “the definition of fraud.” Seeing no dinosaurs on your lawn proves they’re there. It’s science.     
  • Trump and pillow-guy are pushing untested, poisonous oleandrin: yet another fake Covid-19 “cure.” 
  • Trump’s second campaign manager was arrested for defrauding investors with a phony border-wall-funding scheme. On its website, Trump is seen up-thumbing the plan.  
  • Enough damage done, Postmaster PFC DeJoy says he’ll suspend further dismantling the USPS till after the election.   
  • To keep Trump from descending into a rage of denial, intelligence agencies hide evidence of Russian interference in his briefings. 
  • The former DHS Chief of Staff revealed Trump’s temerarious attempts to make the department his personal instrument of power.   
  • Trump called for boycotting Goodyear (cancel culture!) because they banned MAGA hats in the workplace. In fact, they banned ALL political paraphernalia, which is good business.  
  •  Trump thinks the stock market is the economy. He golfed while his brother died. He repeated the debunkum that President Obama spied on his campaign. He praised people who believe the world is controlled by Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles who spread Covid-19 via 5G.  
Barack Obama laid down the stakes like railroad ties, his words a cri de coeur for country and constitution.  Joe Biden made it clear he understands the challenges of the future and the failings of the present and is ready to take them on for ALL Americans.

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Death Of Democracy

Michael Cohen’s book, the forward of which he just released, won’t change anything; won’t shake loose a single Trump voter. For all of Trump’s “presidency,” we’ve been given every reason to believe it. Plain observation has made clear who Trump is and has always been. Lying about Russia deals? No surprise. Slimy sexual peccadillos? Of course. He’s bragged about it. 
Tax evasion, mob deals, threats, hush money. It’s his lifelong modus operandi. It’s why those of us who voted against him, voted against him. Clearly, it’s why those who voted for him did what they did. No one was unaware. In Cohen’s book, we can expect confirmations, not surprises.  
But let’s assume everything in the book is fake news. It’s Cohen, not Trump, who’s the pathological liar. We know of thousands of Trump’s lies and none from Mr. Cohen since he found a conscience, but we weren’t there. 
We ARE here, though, bearing witness to the most dangerous, un-American, dictatorial acts any president, or in this case, “president,” has committed. There’s never been a greater threat to our country; not wars, not al-Qaeda, not ISIS, not even Putin’s Russia. 
We’re on the precipice of allowing dictatorship. Happening in plain sight, it’s with the de facto approval, by their silence, of the Republican Party – the party of patriots. The party of tough-guys, armed, camoed, and Kevlared to protect our freedoms against a dictatorial government. The party of Moscow Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham; Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. 
We speak of Trump’s unbelievable – except it’s Trump -- attack on the US Postal Service, to prevent mail-in voting. Not just his repetitive lies: he’s defunding and physically destroying it, having mail-sorting machines dismantled, mailboxes pulled out of the ground and hauled away. Seeing video of trucks carrying those boxes is looking back at the USSR; it’s Tiananmen Square, Hungary in 1956.  
These are the acts of a dictator, strong-arming to retain power by whatever means necessary; a man who believes in nothing America stands for, nothing but himself and maintaining the position he knows he never deserved.  
Now is when democracy lives or dies. For voting is the ultimate and only check individual citizens have on an out-of-control autocrat like Trump. If he takes it away, which is what he’s literally doing by taking away the means, it’s over. The unthinkable will have happened.  
After months of lying that it’s Democrats who are “rigging” the election, setting the stage for his brainwashed supporters to reject the result if he loses, he’s rigging it for real. In plain sight. If he loses, Trumpists won’t accept the results, based on his lies. If he wins by forcing this kind of brazen cheating, Democrats will understand it was a coup, based on reality. There will be, however, nothing they can do.  
Because if it’s allowed to happen, Trump will have already burned the Constitution forever, with the complicity of everyone who voted for him. There will be no recourse, because there will be no law and no order.  
Republicans and Trumpists must, finally, ask themselves, do they care about real American greatness or not? Will they accept a dictator and the end of meaningful elections because they share the same hatreds, or will they find the courage, the integrity, to say this is too much, even for them? If witnessing this destruction of voting rights, though it’s intended to disenfranchise only people whose politics they don’t like, doesn’t shake them to the core, there was never a core.  
It’s not just voters: it’s McConnell and Graham, Susan Collins and Ted Cruz, Jim Jordon and every other Republican in Congress, all of whom but one let this dangerous, impeached “president” remain in office. If none of them demand an end to his attempt on the life of our democratic republic, even though they’ve spent years doing their own brand of somewhat milder voter-suppression, they’re traitors, every single one.  
Trump’s pandemic response, allowing unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands and tanking our economy, is incompetence and stupidity, but likely survivable. Disenfranchising tens of millions is purely evil, and, for a democracy, fatal. People who don’t see it are blind; those who excuse it may as well stiff-arm the sky.  
Michael Cohen says Trump will stop at nothing to retain power. Turns out he’s the one telling the truth, after all. The question is whether Republicans care. The answer, it appears, is, of course not. Can it happen here? It is.
[Image source

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Lying For The Win

When you’re Trump, with little positive to run on, your paths to reelection are few: preventing as many Democrats as possible from voting, and attacking your opponent. When the opponent is Joe Biden, you’re mostly limited to lying: your specialty. (Also, you have your son-in-law help a bipolar hip-hop artist to run, to suck Black voters from Joe. And welcoming, while denying, Russian help, as before.)
Biden, Trump tells us, will “take away your guns. Destroy your Second Amendment. No religion. No anything. Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns…” He also babbled about buildings with no windows, destroying “our great, beautiful suburbs,” and confiscating all guns, “immediately and without notice.”  
Whatever the theology that God and the Bible can be hurt is, it’s not Christian. Maybe Jerry Falwell, Jr, who suddenly has time (and who knows what else?) on his hands, can clarify. In the meantime, let’s consider the desperation that engenders such bull…oney, and what it says about the disdain Trump has for his voters.  
When he speaks, it’s impossible to know whether he’s lying or delusional. Either way, it’s alarming, and ought to disturb everyone. Nothing Trump said is true. Whether or not he believes it, he expects his supporters will, and he’s not wrong about thirty-five-percent of our population: the mask-refusers; the hoax-believers; the Sturgis-goers and store-employee abusers. The choosers of Q-anon acolytes for Congress. 
The question is whether such preposterous prevarication will cause still-sane Republicans (?) finally to acknowledge Trump is dangerously unfit for the job. To cast a vote for country instead of party.  
It was Ronald Reagan who started us down this road of economic fantasy and scientific ignorance, but it took an amoral conman like Trump to hasten its predetermined dénouement: unable to face difficult challenges, begetting the death-throes of America’s former greatness. If he isn’t the sole cause of our national decline, he sure figured out how to profit from it. Doing so, he eliminated the opportunity to control the pandemic; an easy job for better led, less selfish countries. 
His nonstop dissemination of ignorance has also made it impossible for America to do the much harder work of mitigating climate change. Thirty-five-percent ignorant is enough to take us all down.  
He’s demonstrated his disqualifications daily, for months. Latest was his fund-raiser/news-conference/lunacy at his gaudy Bedminster club, so exclusive that ninety-nine-percent of his supporters would be hustled out faster than an ethical inspector general. There, he flaunted his and his rich pals’ refusal to mask or distance; waved it like the Confederate flag for which he professes love, announcing the pandemic is going away even as it rages on. 
The rarefied air was filled with his lies. About mail-in voting. About Democrats ending signature-verification. All while modeling pandemic non-compliance for his tractable throngs, so welcome at his rallies and so unwelcome at Bedminster.  
Later, Trump rolled back regulations on methane: the most potent of greenhouse gases. Why, in the name of whatever god he thinks Joe Biden will beat up? Who thinks that’s anything but deadly to us, and a gift to oil executives?  
Yet another example of his destructive desperation is hiring a hitman to snuff the Postal Service; a big-donor, inexperienced pal who’s disallowing overtime, removing mail-sorting machines, ordering slowdowns. Unable to stop states from adopting mail-in ballots, Trump chooses to prevent them from being delivered. Chief economic adviser Kudlow just called voting rights part of “a liberal wish-list.” 
The whole “losing money” argument is ridiculous. Like our military, the post office is a government service, not a profit center. This is purely about suppression of Democrats’ votes. Trump admitted it. It’s another impeachable moment.   
Finally, stonewalling economic rescue negotiations, Trump issued not-really executive orders, pretending inaction was Pelosi’s and Schumer’s fault. Mostly empty suggestions, they do, however, begin defunding Social Security. One assumes even Trumpists use the Postal Service; plan on Social Security, too. But, sure, vote for him, because … what? Because you agree BLM is a terrorist organization? It’s cutting off your face to spite your nose.  
But Trump’s not always wrong. Praising the Q-anointed woman Georgia Republicans just nominated for Congress, who warns of Satan-worshipping pedophiles controlling the world, he called her “a future Republican star.” If Republicans stick with him and people like her, he got that absolutely right.  
Postscript: If Mother Pence lets Mike be alone near a woman, the VP debate will be must-see TV. 
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Thursday, August 6, 2020


Tweeteth Il Duce: “With Universal Mail-in Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” [sic]
Steven Calabresi, a founder of the Federalist Society (the rightwing lawyers’ outfit that’s sent Trump all his unqualified but young and ideologically pure judicial nominees), who voted for Trump and previously argued against his impeachment, referred to the tweet as “fascistic” and called it grounds for impeachment.
There’s exactly zero evidence that mail-in voting leads to inaccuracy and fraud, notwithstanding Attorney General Barr mendaciously echoing Trump’s claims. In the Pacific Northwest, we know this. Trump touts absentee voting, though, since he and several of his Whitehousians have partaken. It might not be six of one, but it’s definitely half-dozen of the other. He’s suing Nevada for choosing mail-in voting, but Florida’s, his new home, is okay. With Trump, the most consistent consistency is inconsistency.
Second only to Trump’s disastrous pandemic failures, the “great embarrassment” to the US is hours-long lines outside polling places, and the fact that their numbers have been drastically reduced in minority neighborhoods, while in white precincts there are often no lines at all. That’s not just embarrassing: it’s Republican. And it shows why Trump and Republican leaders (our Secretary of State is a thoughtful exception) fear mail-in voting: it’s not that it inherently benefits Democrats, which studies show it doesn’t. It’s that it un-scales Republican thumbs. Did you know he's suing Pennsylvania, too, for providing ballot drop-boxes?
Trump hasn’t the power to delay the election, by the way. It’s yet another example of imperial delusions and disregard for our Constitution.
Even worse is his intent to pre-invalidate the election. In doing so, he’s running against the Constitution, not Biden; and all but literally suborning revolution if he loses. That’s more than fascistic; it’s betrayal. As is the revelation that he rejected a nation-wide pandemic response because it seemed at first to be killing only people in Democratic states. What’s the word for that? Felonious? Evil? Impeachable? 
Then there’s his pre-election undermining of the Postal Service’s ability to handle ballots (not to mention needed medications). And refusing to expose foreign sabotage of the election. We’re running out of descriptors.
It’s consistent, though, with his increasingly bizarre lying. Several weeks ago, he told Fox “news” viewers that he’d be signing “a full and complete healthcare plan” in two weeks. Entirely made up. Didn’t exist then, doesn’t now. We know Trump lies to his supporters with impunity, but this? This is psychosis, seeing things that aren’t there. Like a “beautiful” response to the pandemic. Amendment 25, where are you?
On deaf ears, is where this falls among Trumpists, as letters to this paper regularly show. A recent one compliantly regurgitated Trump’s favorite lies about Biden (open borders, defunding police, Medicare for all including illegals, socialism…) and warned of anarchy everywhere. How, one wonders, does the writer reconcile predictions of rampant lawlessness with the fact that as soon as Trump’s storm-troopers left Portland, it returned to the peaceful demonstrations that were happening in the days leading up to their arrival?
Violence is exactly what Trump wants. Aided by right-wingers posing as “Antifa” and his own military-style tactics, beating, gassing, kidnapping citizens, he created it, with the intention of benefitting his campaign. What’s that, if not seditious?
And now, as if they’ve concluded their thievery is running out of time, Trumpic corruption is accelerating. The “Paycheck Protection Plan” sent most of its money to wealthy pals and Republican donors. The latest proposed by Republican Senators is more of the same, plus a $1.5 billion gift to Trump’s D.C. hotel. He keeps firing Inspectors General, but the sleaze will out. Can he hold it off till after the election?
In his interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan, who pressed him insistently with facts and follow-up, after which he ran to Fox “news” for a hug, it was clear Trump doesn’t understand coronavirus data, and was hallucinating again: nonexistent “manuals and books” that support his claims. A thousand deaths per day: “It is what it is.” “We’re doing everything that can be done.” All he could say about John Lewis is that he hadn’t attended his inauguration; but he again wished an alleged child-sex-trafficker well.
Trump’s deadly delusions and deceptions are getting worse. If Republicans don’t renounce him, they’ll wander the desert for forty years. Assuming we have that long.
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