Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Critical Thinking. Or Lack Thereof.

File under “duh.” Is what I thought when I saw the headline: “Conspiracy theorists lack critical thinking skills: New study.” But it was a slow day, so I read the article. Although it lacked a link to the study, it described what was done: giving groups of students an established critical thinking essay test and correlating results with belief in conspiracy theories. The unsurprising results, and the test itself, are stated in the article. Like I said: duh. It did make a provocative, if questionable point, saying susceptibility to conspiratorial thinking had nothing to do with intelligence. Well, okay. Maybe it’s a matter of definition. 

But that’s not the important part. The article also cited studies showing that, unlike intelligence, critical thinking can be taught. Which led to an “aha” moment. It explains the depressing scenes of demon-possessed parents at school board meetings, spouting insane falsehoods, threatening jobs and lives, based on fact-free belief in repeatedly disproved conspiracy theories. Critical Race Theory being taught in schools. Unnamed “studies” showing the ineffectiveness and dangers of wearing masks. And of vaccines. Comparing (because Tucker Carlson and the rest of Fox’s falsifiers do) mask mandates to felonious child abuse, or to the Holocaust. Threatening dire reprisals

Lacking, as they do, critical thinking skills, those blood-in-the-eye, crazed true believers can’t help themselves. Knowingly pushing those lies, though, the prime poisoners of their paralyzed perceptions can. Which is where the article triggered the “aha.” It’s in public schools, after all, that people begin to acquire critical thinking skills and the desire to engage them. And what Foxotrumpian leaders fear most is critical thinking.

As with the need to create distrust in free and fair elections, which they know they can’t win, so the Trumpublican Party needs to create as much distrust in public education as possible, lest too many citizens become thinkers. They’ve been working on it for decades; now, the pandemic has gifted them the perfect whipping-up boy. Vaccines. Masks. Mandates. Pure evil, right in our schools, intentionally harming our kids. Just like those child-trafficking, baby-killing, blood-drinking, liberal hangers-out at pizza joints.

But, Q dang it, critical thinking can be taught! Which imperils the con; namely, spreading lies to keep people distracted from what Trumpublicans are doing to their health, their education, their planet, their future, (in the case of infrastructure, it’s what they’re not doing), their chance at The American Dream -- in order to reward themselves and their donors.

Uncharacteristically, a guest on Fox “news” just unbagged the feline. “This is gonna be a boon, or a boom,” he said, referring to those demented protests at school board meetings, “for private schools, for charter schools, for homeschoolers, who are gonna look for an alternative other than in the public schools…” 

That’s the logic: Voters who think critically see through the grift. Critical thinking starts with public education. Ergo, destroy or dumb it down to meaninglessness. Whitewash history. Knowing it’s nothing of the sort, call teaching about slavery or the Trail of Tears, for example, attempts to get white kids to hate themselves. Describe efforts, in K-12 education, to mitigate the effects of poverty on performance, as “divisive.” Ban it from curricula. It’s “cancel culture,” multiplied times Texas. Where it’s been raised to supra-snowflake levels

In fairness – and I’m nothing if not fair – I’ll assume most of those furious parents believe they’re acting in their children’s interest. Because they lack the tools of resistance to Carsonian confabulations, they’re unquestioning in their conspiratorial worldview, certain that even violence is justified. Who wouldn’t be, to protect their kids? Sadly, for everyone, they’re incapable of realizing the harm being done is coming from them

But, we’ve read, they’re not all stupid. Which means, had they any desire, they’re capable of exerting the minimal effort required to learn the truth. Theories abound about the attraction of conspiracy theories, and why such people prefer them. Mental illness. Loneliness. Desperation to belong. Validation of self-worth. Brains evolved to seek connections, short-circuiting into paranoia. Whatever the explanation, it’s there for exploitation by people of ill will. And if it’s always been a part of the human condition, the internet and (anti-)social media have given it the power to destroy. Nations. Democracy. Schools.

On the same slow day, I read an article about people trying to free themselves from the brain-eating bondage of Q-anon. Seeking cult-conversion therapy. Both hopeful and depressing, it describes only a small number of victims finding a way out. While others dig in deeper. 

At this point, is there a solution? Education? If only. Watch this, and decide.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021



Readers of last week’s column, which highlighted Trump’s bizarre claims about the extraneous Arizona election audit, are now convinced he’s a pathological liar or clinically insane. After this week’s, none will doubt he’s a would-be Mafia Don. Capo di tutti capi. Who controls a nationwide criminal organization intent on taking down democracy the way the Sicilian Mafia took down the few brave police and prosecutors who stood in their way.

(Having just spent time there, seeing memorials, everywhere, to those selfless resistors and the pride Sicilians deservedly take in finally standing up to the mob, we hope for comparable monuments in a future America. Assuming she has a future.)

Despite Republican/Trumpist/Foxian efforts to disappear it, some Americans might remember January 6. Some may even have sought legitimate, Fox/Newsmax/OAN-free sources of information about it, and discovered how Trump nearly accomplished overturning a legitimate, fraud-free election, by way of corrupt insiders and orchestrated insurrection. And the extent to which prominent Rs abetted the sedition. And still are. 

So, though its Republican members would like to rub it out, we have a Congressional Commission looking in. Subpoenas have been issued to Trump’s henchmen and consiglieri, as well they should. Because Congressional oversight is how our democracy protects itself from despotism. It’s in the Constitution – that hoary document which, while claiming willingness to die for it, today’s Republicans and their draft-dodging leader are setting on fire to light their torches of demographic resentment.

Overseeing the Executive is our Constitution’s second-most important safeguard. The Declarative Dads got several things wrong (slavery, women, Electoral College, too-skewed Senate), but, familiar with the tyranny of monarchical power, that part they got right. Without it, dictatorship is inevitable, and getting all too close.

Venerated parchment has no power of its own. Absent universal, non-partisan buy-in, calligraphic words are vapor. We’ve seen how close we came to a failed republic when Trump put lawless lackeys in charge of critical institutions. And we’ve heard the Republican hos and hums that followed.

Don Trumpleone doesn’t buy in, nor do members of his party in Congress. Or out in the states. So, despite lacking the power of office, but supported by his 24/7 network of media wiseguys, he made an offer they couldn’t refuse: Defy the subpoenas. Put concrete shoes on the rule of law. Shove it through smashed windows. Reveal yourselves as an anarchic crime family. It worked during impeachment, consequence-free. The party of law, patriotism, family values, and fiscal responsibility: making words meaningless; getting away with it.

Defy them they did. Which bids us to remind their cheerers-on, in case they’ve forgotten, that when a Republican Congress blamed Hillary Clinton for all our country’s woes, she, believing in law and order, answered their subpoenas, sat for eleven hours straight while trumped-up charges kangarooed her way; amounting, in the end, to nothing.

Contempt of Congress is a punishable crime, as it must be. This time, actual crimes were committed. Trump’s Department of Justice, upon which the responsibility of prosecution falls, was headed by an obsequious lieutenant, willing to lie to America, who considered his job protecting the godfather, rather than the law.

Now it’s Merrick Garland, a man of unquestionable integrity. Understanding and committed to preserving the independent role of his Department, unlike his conscience-free, Trumpophilic predecessors, it’s likely he’ll see justice served. And, accordingly, that our democracy and respect for its laws are preserved. 

At least we hope so. If not, it’s over. Foxotrumpification has brought us closer than the founders imagined possible. Not just politicians, and not just their disingenuous repetition of Trump’s Big Lie.

With deliberately incendiary language, amoral Foxfather Tucker Carlson, in it for money and the orgastic thrill of power over the incurably incurious, called on viewers to attack school boards for requiring masks. Criminal child abuse, he called it. They did as commanded. Such malleable idiocy is inimical to democracy and an embarrassment to long-gone Republicanism. It’s only one example of what they’ve become. 

More powerful than Congressional oversight, fair and free elections are the ultimate bulwark against authoritarianism. While proclaimed “conservatives” cheer in deadly silence, red states are close to obliterating that, too. With ever more egregious and blatantly race-based gerrymandering, along with phony laws aimed at non-existent fraud, the Trumpist gang has ordered a hit on majority rule. A carefully-calibrated coup

Without resistance from within, of which there’s little left, the Don and his transcontinental crime family will confirm how powerless our Constitution really is, when so few on the right actually believe in it.

But don’t take it from me. Take it from one of their most-targeted truth-tellers.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

News Of The Week


If the current big and predictably evanescent story is the “Pandora Papers,” which confirmed – surprise! -- corruption among many world leaders and other wealthies, and how states like South Dakota, governed by one of Trump’s biggest sycophants, are welcoming tax cheats, there are other indicators, too, of how close to collapse we are. 

Anyone remember that “forensic” audit of votes in Arizona’s Maricopa County? By a group headed by another Trump-fluffing faker? Which would prove Trump won and sell lots of pillows? Well, months and millions later, it released its findings: Biden still won. By more votes than previous recounts had found. Which might surprise Fox “news” viewers; after pre-hyping it incessantly, Fox made nearly zero mention of the final report.

But that’s not the story. The story is that, after the results became public, Trump stood before an enraptured crowd and, preceded by his usual hallucinatory word-salad, uncorked the following grotesquetude: “We won on the Arizona audit yesterday at a level you wouldn’t believe.” 

They would, though. In a functioning democracy, having borne witness to real-time, living proof he’s a liar or insane, everyone in attendance would have flown the coup. They didn’t. Didn’t even blink. Which underscores the success of perpetual Trumpic election fraud claims: suborning rejection of elections past, present, and future in which Republicans lose. To that end, despite multiple audits showing no fraud, more are underway in other red states, the outcomes of which don’t matter. To the pre-softened, it’s show, not substance.

Like the debt ceiling charade. Per usual, Republican tax cuts broke the budget. Then, predictable as Trump’s next confabulation, when the bill comes due, they threaten default, dishonestly blaming Democrats’ future plans, which include pay-for.

Speaking of duplicity, a member of the right-wing, white-supremacist group known as Boogaloo Bois just admitted posing as a BLM member while shooting up a police station in Minneapolis. It’s not the only instance; the FBI has said so. In fact, it’s a solid bet that nearly all violence at BLM demonstrations was by racist poseurs. Another instance of convincing the eagerly susceptible. “BLM is a terrorist group” is ubiquitous Foxotrumpian fake news. And believed. 

In another threat to the Republic, we’ve now passed 700,000 deaths from Covid-19; even as red-state governors do all they can to keep the pandemic alive. Even as deaths are now nearly exclusively among the unvaccinated. Doesn’t matter. If Trumpists believe he “won” the Arizona audit, they’ll believe anything, literally to their dying day.  

And they’ll believe, for another democracy-killing example, that Texas’ egregious anti-abortion law, based on lies, religious hypocrisy, false promises, and bad science, represents no threat to anyone other than young women and their doctors; because who cares? Monday, in a New Yorker interview, Attorney General Garland warned of disturbing possibilities.

The law, for technicalities that challenge comprehension, avoids judicial review of its blatant unconstitutionality by having “deputized” citizens, not state agencies, to become watchdogs and bringers of lawsuits against anyone exercising what remains, for now, a constitutional right. That’s as cynical as it gets.

The same approach could be legislated against any other right, avoiding judicial review, Garland stated. Not worried? What if it were guns? Or religion? No worries: it’d only be Islam, right? Judaism, maybe. Sikhs. Heads covered by anything but white sheets. Hyperbole? Texas is the latest red state proposing to make the Bible its “state book.”

Speaking of head-coverings, we learned last week that the anti-masks-in-schools movement gets funding from Koch-related money. Same with groups pushing the lie that Critical Race Theory is taught in our K-12 public schools. So virulent is that duo of disinformation that school boards around the country need federal protection. But, hey, it's okay with Republicans.

Clearly, Koch and other involved billionaires believe the way to keep their money safe from taxes that help average people, is continual, manufactured outrage. Truth being unprofitable, they opt for lying to reliably gullible Trumpists. 

But there’s no more sickening example of manufactured outrage than Fox “news” latest attack on Tammy Duckworth. What horrible people they are. 

Finally, there’s President Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” bill. An unimaginable amount of money, causing predictable splits within the perennially suicidal Democratic Party, and fainting-couch hypocrisy from Republicans. How unimaginable? Well, it’d be spent over ten years. Meaning $350 billion per year, on programs that’d make millions of Americans safer, healthier, more secure, less impoverished, better prepared for employment. How much is that, in context? Less than half of what’s spent, annually, on the military. Makes you think. Or would, if thinking were still a thing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

It's Better In Italy

My absence from columny was due, in part, to having been nine time zones and more than a world away from the Trumpic outrages that have consumed me for the past few years. Italy. How calming to spend hours in magnificent medieval – and older – churches, absorbed in fantastic mosaics and frescos, statuary and architecture. Wandering ancient Greek and Roman ruins. 

We – my wife, one of her many sisters, and I -- were accompanied by a friend, a brilliant professor of art history, whose broad and deep knowledge of such things and ability and willingness to share it were gifts beyond measure. I’ll never process it all.

For many miles every day, we walked in 90º weather; in Palermo, Napoli, Roma, Apulia, and surrounds, such that, despite indulging in perfectly legal, recreational gelato, we lost weight. In Italy! Home of pasta and pizza and cappuccino. Even as we gained knowledge.

And something more politically pertinent about our trip: Masks. Vaccination ID. Testing and vaccination stations on the streets. No one complaining. It was Italy, after all, at the beginning of the pandemic (which really happened and still is, in case you believe the deniers), that was hit hardest. Maybe it takes that amount of death and economic devastation to seal the message, in ways it seems not to have here, for selfish, deluded Trumpists. 

Maybe Italians are just smarter. Or traditionally more tuned in to family and friends; to caring about them. A tradition, for the last two thousand years, that actually follows the teachings of Christ, as opposed to the grifting, phony, fake Trumpochristianity that doesn’t.

To enter every museum, we showed proof of vaccination, had our temperature taken. On every bus, train, and subway, in which sanitizer dispensers were abundant, as they were in stores and restaurants, everyone wore masks without drama. Amazing. In a grocery store, I’d forgotten to put mine on and was reminded. “Mi dispiace,” I said, embarrassed. The clerk smiled.

How comforting to be surrounded by caring people, to whom it was as natural as, well, breathing. Who cared because it’s right; and because it’s what revitalized their economy. Streets were full of people strolling, enjoying life. Restaurants were full, too, as were other businesses. Not just with tourists. All because of uncomplicated, shared empathy; anathema to today’s Republican core. Why is it so impossible for them?

If America isn’t the only country with anti-maskers and anti-vaxers, ours are louder, more ubiquitous, more violent, more unrepentantly stupid and dangerous. Claiming it’s about freedom when, in fact, they’re prolonging the need for restrictions. Encouraging more dangerous mutations of the virus. Killing themselves by stupidity and denial.

And, by filling hospitals when they needlessly fall deathly ill, killing others from whom they’ve taken up beds. Swallowing unproven and disproven “cures,” refractory to facts about them. (It was in doses 100 times higher than achieved by ingesting the stuff that Ivermectin was shown to have some activity against the Covid-19. In a Petri dish.)

Made helplessly defenseless against the lies, Trumpists believe they’ll become magnetized, or sterile, or chipped, or bearers of “mutant” DNA, or mega-testicular, or, as a “doctor” recently proclaimed, that the vaccinated will be dead in five years. Clearly, there are people spreading those lies who do so deliberately. One can only wonder why. Especially when the victims are now, nearly exclusively, of their own political ilk

Even at that human cost, they’re willing to keep the pandemic going, so, come the next election and the second coming of Trump, they can blame it on Democrats. What other explanation is there for creating their cult of death? Other than making a ton of money off it, of course

To enter Europe, we had to show proof of vaccination; and have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of returning home. By golly, the tests were negative, despite being body to body in public transportation, in which everyone was masked and most, presumably, vaccinated. No surprise. Not mysterious. All it takes is a spirit of cooperation and common cause. And a lack of unpatriotic idiocy.

In the apses of many of the churches we visited were beautiful mosaics of Christ Pantocrator, in which He gives a sign of blessing with His right hand, holding the New Testament in His left. In some images, the book is open, indicating the path to paradise. In others, it’s closed, portending the fate of people who reject His teachings. In those, it seemed He was speaking through the ages and directly to Trumpists. Who, while pretending to godly patriotism, couldn’t care less.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Social Darwinism

In a country gone nuts, providing facts is as effective as bailing a boat with a salad fork. Nevertheless, patriotism and decades of doctoring compel me to try.

What spurred this particular holler into the wind was learning of anti-vaxers who need blood transfusions, demanding they come from unvaccinated donors. Because, you know, human embryonic cells. Or microchips. Or altered DNA. Turn them into "mutants," Alex Jones warns.

Because they care about humanity, people who donate blood are likely to be vaccinated. When I’ve ordered transfusions, the victims were usually mid-exsanguination. “Ten units,” I’d order. “O-negative, stat!!” No preference-polls taken. Also, blood is scarce nationwide. Would they rather die? They’ve said so, vaccine-wise. So, good luck. 

It’s true that development of the Covid-19 vaccines employed a fetal stem cell line, used in research around the world ever since it was cultured in the Netherlands. In 1973. It’s unclear whether that line came from one of countless abortions induced by God – aka “miscarriages” -- or by doctors. More importantly, whereas the vaccines’ safety was initially tested utilizing cells from that venerable line, their production neither uses nor contains them.

Or microchips. And, as anyone with eighth-grade science education knows (this may exclude people who were taught science in certain red states, or here whose parents convinced them to disbelieve), there’s absolutely no way vaccines alter recipients’ genetic material. Zero. Zip. Nil. Nada. None. Convinced? Dumb question number one.

Refusers do, of course, expect all the benefits of their rejected medical science when they get sick. Imagine that.

After five decades toiling in operating rooms, wearing masks for hours, I attest to their safety. It’s our global adversaries and Trumpists (difference?) who, wanting to divide us, spread the lies. Who would equate demanding common sense and common purpose with oppression? Pal Putin, for one. And Trumpublican leaders, and Trump, and rightwing media inciters, all of whom require a steady supply of enraged followers.

Which they have, in a decades-old, in-house-designed, carefully-maintained line of medical-strength, unquestioningly malleable adult humans. Sharing characteristics with that half-century-old embryonic cell line: Lab-tested; reliable; behaviorally predictable. Only the latter, though, was intended to benefit humanity.

Nikki Haley, once and future Trumpublican star, just injected more pretense into the body politic. About President Biden pressuring the Taliban to not interfere with departing US citizens and Afghans who’d helped them, she opined: “Negotiating with the Taliban is like dealing with the devil.” Inexplicably, she didn’t burst into flames.

What a brazen example of expecting stupidity. Trump “negotiated” (stretching the definition) with them bigly, gave them everything, bragging all the way. Pressured Pakistan to free the imprisoned criminal who may become Afghanistan’s new leader; forced the Afghan government to release five-thousand more, now among the takers-over. Got empty promises in return. As with his other favorite tyrants, he still praises them. Does ex-ambassador Haley believe Trumpists are that ignorant? (Me: no comment.)

As he fantasizes “presidency” 2.0, the last thing Trump wants is President Biden succeeding in anything, including the pandemic. So effective was his previous dissembling that, when he half-heartedly suggested vaccination to Alabama rally-goers last week, they booed. They’ll continue dying. Even after ingesting deworming cow paste, which, helplessly Trumpofoxified, they trust over vaccines.

To the same end, Trump continues shoveling his big election lie. Which, even after witnessing the feathery explosion of Pillow Mike’s promised, irrefutable, reinstatement-inflicting evidence, the cult fervently believes. In a country gone nuts.

Across the land and here in Snohomish County, parents storm schools in anti-mask anger, physically attacking teachers, pulling off their masks, hurling racial insults, threatening more violence. Made to believe deliberate falsehoods, from which they’ll never extract themselves. Uncaring who gets infected, including themselves and their children.

It’s conceivable they don’t intend to become killers. Without question, though, some will. The kindest explanation is endless Foxotrumpian lies, leaving them defenseless. Otherwise, it’s that they’re dangerously dim. Or, worse, that they’re inherently malicious.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, anti-mask hero and pandemic down-player, became infected after meeting unmasked (but vaccinated) with a covey of wealthy, unmasked, Texatrumpic donors. Evidently afraid of dying, he started taking Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment, indications for which rarely include people who, like him, are asymptomatic. “I will downplay the seriousness for thee,” says he, “But not for me.”

Trump and Abbott: anti-abortion (Trump, only recently, because…), anti-fetal stem cell research, taking Regeneron’s antibodies. Which – surprise! -- was developed using the very same embryonic stem cells as the vaccines.

Feel silly yet, anti-vaxer/anti-maskers? Used? Deceived? Manipulated? Dumb questions two through five. 

Clearly, they’ve been implanted with ignorance-inducing microchips.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Choice/No Choice


If the light-speed collapse of Afghanistan proves anything, it’s that, from day two, our involvement was a predestined failure. It did, however, make weapons manufacturers, Afghan “officials,” and warlords rich; and goosed the opium and meth industries

Any president would have retaliated after 9/11. Bush chose invasion. Alternatives are hard to conjure, so probably all others would have, too. Severe economic sanctions on the birthplace, funders, and protectors of al Qaeda, namely Saudi Arabia, would have made sense, had we not been addicted to their oil, nor our politicians to their cash. Only one legislator, California’s Barbara Lee, foresaw the inevitable and voted against the war.

And it was inevitable. Not for nothing, across centuries, has Afghanistan been considered the graveyard of empires. With its neighbors looking the other way or aiding the Taliban, “winning” from half a world away was exceptionalistic, neo-con hubris.

Had Rumsfeld not let bin Laden escape when they had him in Tora Bora, the US could have claimed “Mission Accomplished” and left. Maybe then, basking in victory, Bush’s Iraq invasion – and the lies behind it -- wouldn’t have occurred. But invade we did. If the die wasn’t already cast in Kabul, it was then.

Maybe if Carter and Reagan hadn’t armed and trained the mujahedeen to fight the Soviets, creating what became the Taliban, 9/11 plotters wouldn’t have had safe haven. But some say when those jihadis forced the Russians out, the end of the USSR began. So, worth it?

Twenty years, thousands of American lives, a couple trillion dollars better spent here, by Bush, Obama, Trump, and, briefly, Biden, claiming we’d created an uncorrupted, viable government there. Building, equipping (now in Taliban hands), training an army, 300,000 strong. (Far fewer, probably: audits found many more salaries paid, by the US, than identifiable people.) 

Desperate to be the one who ended the war, Trump “negotiated” an art-of-the-deal with the Taliban, committing the US to complete withdrawal, leaving out of it the Afghan government and military leaders, who called it a complete capitulation.

Declaring the Taliban future partners who’d fight terrorism, who’d magically become good guys, Trump set a date certain for leaving, bragging it couldn’t be undone. Immediately, the Taliban knew Afghanistan was theirs, and set about taking it, village by village, bribe by bribe, defection by defection, months ago

The final sweep confirms the one-sidedness of Trump’s “deal.” His usually fawning GOP would now like you to forget what he did

President Biden had two choices: after twenty years, acknowledge the obvious; or commit forever to defending a people no longer willing to defend the corrupt government we’d given them. Aware, surely, it could cost future elections, he made the tougher choice; the one previous presidents promised but never delivered.

Having planted my stake firmly in favor of pulling up stakes, I must say President Biden handled the denouement very badly. It’s understandable to have presumed that, twenty years in, our custom-built Afghan government and military would at least forestall, if not prevent collapse. But didn’t they know what the Taliban were doing? Had they no eyes in villages?

Evacuating our civilians and thousands of theirs who’d helped us at great personal peril should have had the highest priority. Chaotically, frightfully, it’s happening now. Hopefully, not too late.

Biden’s Monday speech was forthright; explaining his decision, taking responsibility for mistakes. Was it a compelling counter to hypocritical, CYA (see above) screams from the right? Does a bear use public restrooms?

Facing Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, brilliantly effective distraction and disinformation, Democrats can’t afford mistakes. They’re already fighting amongst themselves instead of producing a coherent, resonating message.

If ever messaging should be easy, it’s now. Republican leaders and refusers are wholly responsible for the resurgent pandemic, uncaringly making it worse, even as their ICUs fill with younger and younger victims. Outside hospitals, corpse-cooling trailers have reappeared.

They’re pretending the January insurrection was a pleasant winter picnic, and – the law and order party – claiming the arrested, felonious perpetrators are “political prisoners.” Heroes. Trump all but literally called for violence against the defenders. Only the irredeemably Trumpofoxified aren’t appalled. 

Fast as they can, they’re legislating voting obstacles for non-Trumpists. Threatening election workers. Blocking aid to Americans in need. And still, while heatstroke kills, fires rage, glaciers melt, electric grids fail, acidifying oceans rise, sea creatures die, and water from the Colorado River is rationed, denying climate change. All to keep wealthy investors and corporate polluters on board. At whatever cost to everyone else.

Professionally-thickened skulls are impenetrable. For America to endure, in people and parchment, thoughtful citizens must vote in enormous numbers: the antipode of a sure thing. Maybe we should invade Grenada again. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Death At Death's Door

           [Take your pic pick. Couldn't decide.]

A doctor friend working in a Texas hospital foretells rationing ventilators, as Covid-19 patients overrun their ICUs. Who, he asks, should be denied? Vaccination refusers? Other than being partially-innocent victims of well-organized lying, their primacy on the rejection list is compelling. The brainwashed don’t know they’re brainwashed, but, as ubiquitous evidence makes persisting ignorance indefensible, sympathy wanes.

They sent a Covid patient to North Dakota for care. Needing a ventilator for non-Covid illness, another Texan had to be airlifted 150 miles; prior to which he required approval by a team husbanding the scarce resources. It’s Sarah Palin’s death panels, incarnate; necessitated by people made unable to process information. Unlike the stuff of her disordered mind, this is real. Texas’ Trumpicly irresponsible governor now begs smarter states to send help.

Why it’s happening is obvious. Trump’s pandemic ignorance and lies and inattention showed Republican leaders a winning strategy: To keep people distracted from their pre-failed economic agenda, and sending money, make it about “freedom,” or “communism.” Or, a perfect exemplar of effective disinformation, believing “Critical Race Theory” is taught in K-12 schools. Hint: It isn’t.
“Unmasked, Unmuzzled, Unvaccinated, Unafraid,” say their T-shirts. Translation: “Uninformed, Uneducated, Unreachable, Uncaring.” “I do my own research” – a claim that refutes itself. 

So successful is it that, dismissing massive contrary documentation, Trumpublicans still believe vaccines and masks are ineffective and/or dangerous; liberal “wokeness” signifiers. Had Trump, Trumpophile governors, and their media heroes urged their victims to pitch in, as Americans amidst crises always have, this Delta-variant siege wouldn’t have happened. Viruses spread -- and mutate -- among the unvaccinated. Deeming it acceptable collateral damage, Trump’s party has become a killer party. Why? Consider who benefits.

As their media stars pound rare breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, widespread deaths and deathbed regrets of anti-vaxers are ignored. Consumers only of Trump-approved news sources may have missed these data from the CDC, current as of July 31:

Of the 164m fully vaccinated in the U.S., 99.9% have NOT tested positive for Covid-19. Breakthrough cases represent .077%. Hospitalized: .004%. Died: .001%.

In contrast, 99% of those hospitalized and/or dying of Covid-19 are unvaccinated. A Florida church just lost six parishioners in ten days; four under thirty-five. Previously healthy. Unvaccinated.

Given those numbers, who of right mind refuses vaccination and masks? Trumpists. Among whom, because of disturbingly easy and successful mass deception, it appears no right minds remain. Killing thousands, manipulated and abandoned, for the most cynical of reasons: payola for bankrollers.

For decades, having nothing else to offer, Republicans created a human variant disinterested in truth; not changing course even as their voters are endangered. Only in a killer party could that be considered leadership.

On fawning media, Trump blames President Biden for the resurgence. Unlike Trump, he made vaccination widely available, fast, and urged it. Biden’s fault, says Trump, while his blinded flock refuse vaccination and masks, enabling Delta’s rise.

What hope is there for a county in which millions of such zombified people exist? (Bad analogy. They’re not eating brains, they’re offering their own to their leaders for lunch.) Evidence, mounting hourly, is ignored. And, no: evolving recommendations don’t validate their disbelief. It’s science: seeking and remaining open to new information. Why has that become “conservative” anathema?

Proving the point is a quote for our times, forced from lungs filling with Covid-19, spoken by a 31-year-old man in Branson, MO: “I was strongly against getting the vaccine,” Barker said through labored breathing. “Just because we’re a strong conservative family.” That’s Trumpofoxification in the mortifying flesh. What Trumpian acolytes have done is criminal. Murder most literal.

That poor guy is a victim of Trumpism. This one isn’t: a smug, bullying, attention-seeking, taxi-driving avatar for all of Trumpworld, who refuses masked or vaccinated passengers. Patriotic. Heroic.

For needed karmic relief, Texas Republicans provide: Covid-19 has derailed (temporarily, no doubt) their determination to suppress Democratic votes; the only way they can keep winning.

There are much worse and deadlier issues, though: Whereas the pandemic might end up killing only a million or two Americans, the latest IPCC report shows climate change on a trajectory to kill far more.

Unlike his pandemic dereliction, Trump’s climate denial isn’t wholly responsible. But he and his party did less than nothing about it: deregulating, dissembling, deceiving. Departing accords. All for fossil-fuel money. And to “stick it to the libs.” If that’s both murderous and suicidal, their reactionary inaction on climate change is pan-humanity genocidal.

Unconvinced by heatwaves, drought, acidifying oceans, dying reefs, wildfires, starvation, dried-up rivers and reservoirs, melting glaciers and methane-spewing tundra, Trumpists continue to laugh it off.

Against such radical resistance to reality, what can thoughtful citizens, actual patriots, do? Minimize energy use. Make it green as possible. And, since Trumpists are irretrievably uneducable, stop electing them. Until Texas, et. red, make that impossible, too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Enemy Next Door (not the movie)

Yes, I will be taking a break, but this is too good to pass up, a local example of fake news extruded onto the internet by people too lazy or ill-equipped to recognize it. Or purposefully. In any case, this one involves me.

Perhaps the reader is aware of the information-exchange website, “Nextdoor.” It’s nationwide, with regional subsets of local groups (“Everett Conservatives,” in this case) and neighborhoods, like “Nextdoor Boulevard.” A better name would be “Nextdoor Nosy,” as there’s a surfeit of complaints about loud cars, unkempt yards, teenagers, dogs, and warnings of people walking funny.

A few days ago, I was sent screenshots from a thread on the site, asking for my thoughts. It was approximately hilarious, but definitely sad. Not for myself, but for what passes for information on right-wing sites nowadays. 

Informant Jan writes, “You can google Sid Schwab and you’ll arrive at a writeup written by him. [She surmises.] He entitles himself as Doctor Schwab. He claims he received his surgery training in San Francisco but doesn’t name the institution… Then practiced for five years in Salem. Where in Salem? … 20 more years at the Everett Clinic. As what? He also said he was a flight surgeon in Vietnam during the war. How does he confirm that? … I think the Herald should vet his credentials.”

Co-conspirator Amanda chimes in: “I think I just watched his story a few days ago. A really bad doctor who maimed and killed his patients. I really did just watch a documentary that sounds a lot like this guy.”

To which Jan replied, “Amanda, I’m going to write the Herald re this creep. Think you should, also.” Then, “The Herald did not publish my letter re Sid Schwab… I will not renew The Herald.”

“Creep” was a nice detail.

There followed input from a lady who’d actually looked into it – something the outrageously outraged had chosen not to; placing, it must be assumed, righteous indignation above truth. The nicer lady posted easily-found documentation and verifications, which seems to have brought the “discussion” to a close.

Lacking admission to “Everett Conservatives,” I'd guess there were posts that preceded what was sent to me. Whatever documentary rattled around between Amanda’s ears can’t have “sounded like” what Jan said, if that’s where the deliberations began. It didn’t seem especially creepy, nor had she cited maiming and killing, the avoidance of which I’ve always considered kind of a personal credo.

The point is not to argue I am who I am, or to suggest I’m not a creep, because, well, the definition is admittedly squishy. It’s to point out how easy it is for online ill-wishers and/or the uninformed to spread falsehoods, deceive those lacking critical minds, trash reputations, and, tragically, propel narcissistic incompetents into high office.

Brewing in a “conservative” coven, it’s probable the exchange arose from enough intellectual residua to have secerned my subtle misgivings about Trump. Likely, it went no further, but it’s instructive nevertheless. Someone saw something she assumed was written by me (the publicist for my book, more likely) which didn’t include the address of UCSF or The Salem Clinic, or proof I served in Vietnam. Therefore, suspect. Also, I was born in Kenya.

A co-conspirator saw a “documentary,” which she concluded was about me. Really? Was the subject unnamed? Had he been in SF, Salem, and Everett? Otherwise, we must conclude not all bulbs in Amanda’s chandelier are LED.

Charitably, I’ll assume it wasn’t deliberate dishonesty, but just the lazy credulity Russian and other foreign entities count on when they plant their pro-Trump propaganda

Which is perfect fodder for homegrown grift, too, like Trump’s calls for “stop the steal” donations and scammers selling suckers overpriced “Freedom Phones.” 

And it mirrors what people who value truth are up against: a malignant mélange of mendacity, gullibility, sloth, and skillfully-cultivated inability to recognize falsehood. Or preference for it. Especially if it supports inaccurate beliefs that are more comfortable than accepting hard reality.

Whether I lied about Vietnam (wanna see my DD214 or Purple Heart Medal, Jan? Email your address and I’ll drop by) or being a doctor (I’ll bring my degrees, too), is minuscule solanum tuberosums compared to whether the election was stolen, climate change and Covid-19 are real, or Trump is a sociopathic liar. But, on a smaller scale, it validates the confidence of those who, capitalizing on strategically-produced right-wing ignorance, spread misinformation to the willing, to maintain power and wealth while hurting the very people they’ve deceived into voting for them. 

It’s hard to see a way out of it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

They're Nuts. CPAC confirms.

CPAC. Once a year, it allows us to witness, compressed and packaged, the degeneration of a formerly rational political party. Lucky us: twice, this year. Time was, the acronym stood for “Conservative Political Action Conference.” Now, it’s gotta be “Christians Perverting Actual Christianity.” What a lineup of lies, victimhood, ignorance and hate. Hate for their fellow humans; for the poor and needy, for immigrants, for teaching and truth. Everything, in other words, the Bible tells us Jesus loved. Died for, briefly.

Perfectly presenting the direction their party is headed – namely, electing and showcasing nasty, dishonest, uninformed, anti-democracy, pro-autocracy, conspiratorial demagogues -- it’s more sorrowful every year. Attendees actually cheered for low vaccination rates among Republicans. “It’s horrifying,” said Dr. Fauci. “I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives!”

New guy Madison Cawthorn, whose preexisting dishonesty, like Trump’s, first time around, didn’t keep him from being elected, warned that the next step from bringing vaccinations to homes is coming for your guns and Bibles. This is a party bereft of ideas. Not to mention morality. It’s no exaggeration: they delight in death in order to “stick it to the libs.” 

It’s even worse than that. They cheered for ending every pro-life program our government provides. This, the party of “pro-life,” which they wave like Trump flags, shout it louder than “lock her up.” Their pretense that they’re protectors of life ends when it’s those no longer enwombed. Excepting the already wealthy.

Attendees were also treated to a 7-point plan to restore Trump to office, immediately. Among others, it included getting the Congressional Black Caucus to switch to the party that would like them never to vote; that welcomed racist Proud Boys and Three-percenters to their ghoulish gathering. Cogent.

This berserk zeitgeist is who and what they’ve become. How they got there is a complicated story, the result of decades of deliberate disinformation meant to endumb and divide. The why, though, is simple.   

Okay. Stop. This is pretty bad writing, right? Hyperbolic. Purple. I admit it. The thing is, the continuing rise of Trumpism is making me increasingly incoherent. And perpetually depressed. Seeing America crumble before my eyes; witnessing one so-called conservative after another, people so far beyond redemption, so demonstrably against everything for which America once stood, get up and spew their reality-averse vitriol to a cheering crowd, is becoming psychically intolerable. And it shows.

I’ve tried to tell myself, well, these are just the lunatic fringe. But they’re not. Trumpism – by which I mean making lies central to the message, absent anything positive but full of voter suppression, science denial, and selfishness – is now the uncontested mainstream of today’s Republicanism. 

Commanded by the most dishonest, divisive, and delusional “president” this country has seen, whom they can only have elected not in spite of but because of those attributes, they’re culling any member who stood for democracy in the aftermath of the most scrutinized and confirmed election, ever.

And, while feigning outrage at so-called “cancel culture,” they’re systematically canceling the history of America: from learning why we amended flawed founding documents to acknowledging what happened on January 6, and what caused it.

Lacking a positive agenda, they’re counting on riding a hyped-up, cynically-created culture war to victory. Said Jim Banks, R-Indiana, the “backlash against Critical Race Theory is real … We are in a culture war … we are winning.” 

Till now, America had tended to improve itself by acknowledging and repairing its flaws; so what Republicans are doing is worse than Stalinism. Stalin did his gaslighting without Fox “news” and Rush-like radio talkers. And CPAC.

The people cheering at CPAC are forever lost to rationality. Their disdain for democracy is irreversible. They’re the culmination of a long-term project to stupefy millions of people, based on the recognition that for a top-heavy, unpopular agenda to prevail in a democracy, voters need to be made ignorant. CPAC proves its effectiveness. Tennessee confirms.

Better writers than me, with far wider audiences, are making no difference. Polls show Republicans remain steadfast in their delusions, about the election, about Trump, about climate change and vaccines, about poverty, about education. Evidently, we’re at the point where carefully-crafted ignorance becomes indelible. No columnist can change it. 

America could save itself by outvoting idiocy. But that’s like bailing a boat with no bottom: red states are attacking education and voting rights faster than efforts to stop it. Trumpists would only awaken, if at all, when they comprehend the damage being done to them and our country, by cynical manipulators. By then, it’d be too late. I think it already is. I need a break. Again. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Break From Politics. Almost.

Soccer. I was barely aware of it until college, where I watched a game for the first time; mainly because “we” were playing Harvard, which featured a legendary player named Chris Ohiri. Somehow, I’d heard of him, even though I knew approximately nothing about the sport.

Ohiri had come to Harvard from Nigeria, where he’d been a record-breaking decathlete and an Olympic soccer star. As a freshman, he’d scored thirty-six goals in nine games, which, now something of a soccer aficionado, I find all but unthinkable. In his three years on the varsity squad he scored forty-seven.

The game I saw was perhaps the only one in which he didn’t, because we had a player whose speed matched his and whose only job was to dog him. Chris said after the game that our guy, Larry, was the best American he’d played against. I played rugby with Larry, who’d often run to the sidelines to suck on a cigarette and quaff a beer before rejoining the game. It was a club sport. Further comparisons to follow.

(Checking on Ohiri for this column, I discovered that shortly after graduation, then enrolled in Harvard Business School, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and went home to Nigeria to die. Because the ruling government saw his returning-hero status as a threat, he was arrested on arrival, and died in custody.)

I came to appreciate soccer when our son took it up, eventually becoming a striker on a championship select team. I knew I qualified as a fan when they attended an invitational tournament in B.C. Having been on call the night before, I’d missed their match against the Canadian U-17 national team. A dad told me it was the best they’d ever seen: a 0 – 0, or, as we like to say, nil - nil tie. Only true fans can say that about that.

I bring this up because I’ve been binge-watching Euro Championship and Copa America games. At its best, soccer is, indeed, “the beautiful game.” The skills required are, not to sound creepy, unnatural. For example, the first time our son received a kicked-off football, in middle school, he ran it back for a touchdown. Running with an air-filled, ovoid leather-like sack tucked under one’s arm is natural. Same with tossing a spherical object through a circular ring. Not everyone can, but our bodies are designed for it.

Dribbling with one’s feet at full speed, however, maintaining control while making balletic moves around opponents, able to fire off an accurate shot, wasn’t engineered into the blueprints. Nor was precision-controlling a ball flying at you from afar. With a shoe, not a glove.

Also, soccer is ridiculous. Because it’s very hard to score, a team can dominate play in all ways and still lose, by virtue of one sort of fluke or another. It’s not rare. Worse is that the higher up the professional ladder you go, the more the players are inclined to fake injuries, to extract a penalty call from the referee. Hurl themselves to the ground, theatrically; flail as in the agonal throes of death, though touched in the most innoxious of ways.

In my rugby days, there were no substitutions. Contact was full, forceful, and free of padding. If a player went down, it was likely for the count, helped or carried off the field, leaving his team to play a man down. Or two. Or three. Otherwise, we soldiered on, bleeding into bandages, bones poking through skin (if memory serves).

By contrast, footy-fakers pound the ground in unbearable pain, roll like British cheese-chasers, waiting for the referee’s call. If none is forthcoming, they bounce up, limp once or twice for effect, and resume playing. It’s a medical miracle, really. Homeopathic, almost. 

These rules could make the game less annoying:

1. If a player rolls more than once, he (women don’t flop) must leave the pitch for five minutes per roll, with no substitutions allowed. 

2. Players may pound the ground twice. Each additional whack triggers two minutes off the field. If the player pops right up, the minutes are doubled.

3. Faked damaged limbs will be quick-dry casted for the remainder of the game.

4. Political candidates must explain corner kicks, penalty kicks, and the off-sides rule; any that votes to prohibit teaching about racism may never use the term “cancel culture.”

5. While watching replays of consecutive nil-nil soccer games nonstop for twenty-four hours, people who believe Trump will return as “president” in August must locate the Constitution’s Reinstatement Clause and speak in public to explain it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Under The Hoax Dome

Hoax enough for ya? In Seattle, workers watered roads that were buckling in the hoax. Because their cables were over-hoaxing, Portland’s trolleys were shut down. Olympic trials in Eugene paused as athletes succumbed to hoax-stroke. For those of us fortunate enough to have air-conditioning, going outside was like walking into a solid wall of hoax.

If it was hoaxer than Hell around here, there’s some good news on another front: The hoaxcines have been hugely effective against the coronahoax. Numbers of new cases in our state have dropped dramatically. Here and across America, 99% of people now dying from the hoaxus are unhoaxinated. And, because so many of us have understood the need and the science, those who still refuse the hoaxine because of Hox “news” are increasingly unlikely to fall ill. “See?” they’ll say. “Told you so.”

Also, we’ve learned the January 6 hoaxurrection wasn’t orchestrated by Antifa or BLM or AOC after all. It was the FBI. Ask Trump’s rally-goers.  

Seriously, foax: why are Republican leaders so committed to making and keeping their voters stupid? That they’re doing so and are surpassingly good at it is uncontroversial. And whereas it’s not hard to understand why they do it, what’s shocking is how easy it’s been. To wit: Critical Race Theory. Letters to the editor bemoaning the “fact” that it’s taught in our schools. That’s high-class, low-information, full-frontal Hoaxification.

The question answers itself. Republican leaders need stupid voters in order to regain and retain power. Smart people wouldn’t let them. Why? Because that party has become devoid of ideas, other than tax cuts to keep their bankrollers wealthy, even as it means ignoring America’s most dire needs. Because only stupid people stand by while, in order to win elections in the absence of helpful policy, Republicans surgically neuter democracy in states it controls. Only stupid people continue to believe, undeterred by overwhelming contrary evidence, that such measures are justified, because the last election was “stolen.”

It’s not smart people who’ve put #ucker Carlson at the top of cable “news” and kept him there, even after he called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “stupid” and a “pig” for saying well-informed troops are more effective. Ante-upper Laura Ingraham, #ucker’s ovarian equivalent, called for defunding the military, while Matt Gaetz did the same for the FBI. Makes “defund the police” – admittedly the most stupid and self-destructive meme up with which the liberal fringe has ever come – seem almost charming, doesn’t it?

But let’s leave calling people “stupid” to #ucker. Henceforth, we’ll substitute “uneducated” and “misinformed.” The point is that educated, well-informed people understand the deathly danger of climate change. They see that ignoring it any longer is beyond irresponsible. And Republican leaders understand dealing with it would mean they couldn’t sustain the unbalanced tax structure that keeps their donors happy. They understand that most of their voters, fed the right propaganda, can be made resentful enough of changing demographics to vote their way no matter what else is at stake – even when it’s life itself. Education, then, is their gravest enemy, to be attacked unrelentingly.

So they dredged up “Critical Race Theory,” a fifty-year-old legal/academic concept, taught mainly in law schools, proposing that race is a social construct, and that America’s justice system doesn’t deal fairly with racial issues. Ask a generic Trumpist, they’ll say it’s taught in grade schools, to make all kids hate America and white ones hate themselves. How stu… sorry … misinformed

Should children know American history? Does it include racism? Can we learn from it? Might that make America better? Only st… oops … uneducated people would argue otherwise.

Trumpists conflate CRT with teaching children to be empathetic and to recognize unfairness where it exists; which, unlike CRT, is taught, and should be. Except in Texas, Florida, and, soon, all red states. PACs have even been created to get Trumpists on school boards, to keep teachers from discussing racism. Perhaps they’ll explain why they shouldn’t. And why banning it isn’t the “cancel culture” they’re encouraged to rage about.

Having supported an actual hoax while in office, the former one-term president’s Attorney General now confirms he and other advisers knew Trump’s election claims were bullstuff. He said Mitch McConnell asked him to call it out, because he, Mitch, couldn’t. Because to win Georgia they needed to keep voters st… dang! … misinformed. McConnell corroborated Barr’s statement. 

Which ought, finally, to help Trumpists recognize what’s being done to them, and why; and, for their own self-respect and our country’s future, to work to become better informed, rather than staying, well … stupid.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

#ucker Carlson, FBI, And Italian Gates

"Unindicted co-conspirators." Makes a person think. If by "think" one means "completely mischaracterize the concept." When used in a DOJ report on January's insurrection, it made Tucker Carlson "think" of the FBI. "Incredible bombshell," he called it. After which, several Republican loonies in Congress gobbled it up like orange wedges at a kids' soccer match.

To Tucker “Starts-with-T-but-there-are-alternatives” Carlson, the term could only mean Trump’s anti-American insurrection was an FBI operation. To people able to maintain contact with reality, though, it more likely refers to seditionists who laid plans but for which there’s currently inadequate evidence to indict; or to those who stoked anger to murderous levels on the morning of. Mo Brooks, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, for examples. And, of course, the outvoted “president.” That’s how Nixon was described, after all, back when gates stopped being just things that open and close.

To rationalize their anti-democracy voter suppression laws (because fair elections would doom them, R senators just blocked even discussion, much less a vote, on the For the People Act), Republicans must keep alive the myth of massive election fraud. To keep the lie Trumpophilically credible, they’re morphing the murderous insurrection it engendered into something innocent; or created by deep-state agents, or liberals; or which never happened at all.

What other explanation is there for the Republican representatives who voted against honoring the capitol police? If they didn’t honor them, it didn’t happen. If it didn’t happen, there’s no complicity for those peddling Trump’s big lie.

As to Tucker, they come for the conspiracies and stay for the lies. Who doubts that millions of the Trumpofoxified are buying his FBI connivance, after he repeated it, repeatedly?

Which raises an interesting question: if Tucker’s like-mindless Congress-dwellers believe his deep state confabulation, why vote against a commission to investigate? Wouldn’t they ride the wave of revealed, awful truth to perpetual power? To which the answer can only be, they don’t.

What they do believe, then, is that Trumpublicans can be convinced of anything; so they keep them hot, bothered, ignorant of, and distracted from their real, deep six agenda. By what evidence can anyone say they’re wrong?

They’re not. One needs no more proof than “ItalyGate,” their most recent gate swinging off its hinges, pushed, among others, by a woman sitting for an interview while squatting, unknown to the owner, in a thirty-million-dollar mansion she claimed was hers. Not far enough off, though, to prevent Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, from asking the DOJ to look into it.

Because who wouldn’t believe an Italian defense contractor collaborated with the US Embassy in Rome, to beam advanced (alien?) satellite technology into voting machines, stealing millions of Trump votes. Totally real. Real as hacking into machines that aren’t online. From outer space. Real as Jewish space lasers combusting California’s forests. 

But not as real as how close Trump brought us to losing it all. Because behind the noise, the deliberate drum of disinformation dispersed by devious deceivers, are disturbing details. Whether getting the Department of Justice to spy on members of Congress and reporters and even his own people, or pressuring it to find non-existent election fraud, he did his best to make the DOJ and, it’s being reported, even the FCC, his personal investigatory and punishment agencies. Like the KGB, Stasi, Gestapo, and OVRA, used by the dictators he so admires to keep their subjects in line and living in fear.

How close? Attorney General Barr willingly mischaracterized the Mueller Report, squelched prosecutorial investigations into Trump’s criminality, resumed the domestic data-gathering at which even Jeff Sessions had finally balked, and let Trump’s criminal enablers, like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, off the hook. But lying about manifestly absent election fraud was evidently an abridgment too far, even for him, despite his prior eagerness to politicize his department. After failing to confirm Trump’s big lie, he was gone. His successor, pressured by Trump to appoint special counsels to find it, slow-walked it. That close.

As Trumpists keep believing conspiracies egested by their favorite fabulists, and as unscrupulous pushers of them keep getting elected, there are ever fewer people on the right with the integrity and rationality required to protect the Republic. No matter how long he’s been “gone,” Trump’s treachery lives on. Thanks in no small part to Tucker’s anti-American, self-enriching shtick, Vladimir Putin polls higher than President Biden among Trumpists.

First, Russia had Trump. Now it’s Carlson. As he and his believers tear down America, in the Kremlin it’s high fives all around. We're left to wonder if #ucker is in on it.

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