Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Fair Warning


“Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation.” — James Madison

A wretched situation, indeed. Because, whereas many of the Republicans in Congress – McCarthy, Boebert, Gohmert, Gosar, Taylor-Greene, Brooks, Paul, Cruz, Tuberville, etc. – are liars, stupid, or nuts, not all of them are. Mitch McConnell, though a liar, is a genius at perverting everything Democrats are trying to do to help average Americans: which happens to include most of his red-state constituency. He can’t be ignorant of the damage he’s causing; by that, and by closing his eyes to Trumpism. Destitute in virtue, rich in avaricious cowardice, he remains silent; the poster boy for the impending crisis. 

Everyone who cares about America’s future must read the recent dissertation in the Washington Post written by Robert Kagan, actual conservative and member of America’s most respected and balanced think tank, the Brookings Institution. Titled “Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here,” it’s a frigid dose of reality. If you profess love of America and its form of government, read it, as an act of patriotism. That includes Trumpists, professors for sure. (Non-subscribers have access to a limited number of articles.)

The opening quote of this column, above, also begins the essay. It continues: “The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves…” Later: “… Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary... Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022…

Kagan’s analysis of why Trump can do no wrong in the eyes of his supporters, why cowardly Republican leaders fear him, and what it means for democracy, rings true. Justifying red state legislatures’ efforts to legalize overturning disliked election results, unwavering belief in his “stolen election” lie is at the heart of it. A trumpet, heralding the political apocalypse.

The more Trump’s lies are pointed out, the more his cultists love him. “The events of Jan. 6 … proved that Trump and his most die-hard supporters are prepared to defy constitutional and democratic norms…,” writes Mr. Kagan. Said a capitol-rioting woman, he reminds us, “We weren’t there to do damage. We were just there to overthrow the government.” “Just,” she said. Just.

More convincingly and eloquently, Kagan echoes what I’ve written many times: that Madison, et. al., figured they’d created the checks and balances necessary to prevent authoritarianism. Then, though, there were no political parties. If they arose, they surmised, it’d be limited to some states; and, whereas a psychologically unfit deceiver like Trump might become popular locally, national appeal was impossible. Wrongly, they assumed an informed electorate. White, male, and landed, to be sure; but well-enough educated to rebuff demagoguery. Modern Republicans have put that fantasy to rest. Our forefathers were tragically mistaken.

Nor could they imagine today’s rightwing wholesale rejection of the backbone of democracy: elections. Accepting outcomes. Instead, it’s willingness to burn the country down (figuratively, mostly, so far), including threats to poll-workers and their families, to maintain their personal privilege, dismissing the impact on our future. Virtuous it isn’t.

If legislating away free and fair elections is Trumpism’s most obvious threat, anti-mask/anti-vaccine activism is vivid proof of the loss of American idealism for a third of the country and ninety percent of Republicans. All-but-inexplicable susceptibility to transparent lies. Overarching disinterest in understanding the avarice behind them, uncaring how their selfish, misguided, manipulated refusals harm others. (Obvious statement: had American virtue been more present among Trumpists, mandates would have been unnecessary.)

Republicans love to claim Abraham Lincoln as their own, while ignoring his ethos: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right…” Speaking of Whom, they also claim exclusive rights to Jesus. Which makes sense only if they believe the Sermon on the Mount is fake news. Also fake: Republican Secretaries of States’ attestations to a fraud-free election. And that Arizona thing.

Nothing can convince Trumpists they’re being lied to: about the election, CRT, masks and vaccines; glaring, dangerous, and deeply cynical as those lies are. If Mr. Kagan is to be proved wrong, it’ll be when people like Mitch McConnell and actual conservatives, caring nearly as much for America as for themselves, find the courage to disavow Trumpism and the corrosion at its core. Now or never. Like climate change. Time has all but run out.


  1. I haven't read the Kagan piece yet, but I will if I can. I find my reading of the constant disappointing reality has rendered me incapable of finishing even one more op-ed or article about what's happening. Again, I despair. I saw a video clip yesterday of a Q&A at an event in Idaho hosted by Charlie Kirk. The man was asking "when do we get the guns to deal with these people?". These people are us. Those of us who believe the election was fair, not stolen. Those of us who believe in the vaccines, and have received them. To his very limited credit, Kirk dialed back the violent tendencies of the rhetoric but there is serious animosity (too tame a word) in that Right Wing miasma that poses a very real threat to us all. From our neighbors.

    So to bolster my spirits, I make my quilts and read novels. I just got finished re-reading The Godfather and am currently re-reading The Thorn Birds. Both are as well done as I remember from first readings years ago. I've also been re-reading the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Canadian writer, Louise Penny. If you haven't read them, I highly recommend them and further recommend reading them in order. Her character development, and plotting makes it necessary. These are the kind of books where you will tell yourself, 'just one more chapter!' until you have blazed through book after book.

    I'll be back after I read the piece recommended by Sid. I'm sure I'll have some thoughts.

    1. Or not. For the thoughtful and observant, which includes you, the piece really isn't anything new. Immersing oneself in good fiction isn't merely an escape: it's a path toward salvation. Or something.

      Anyhow, I'd hate to be the cause of pain. Probably too late, right?

    2. I just finished the Kagan essay, and I could take up a lot of space quoting him, but your suggestion to read it is to be followed by all. I was surprised I'd missed it, then not surprised, as it was first published right around my birthday and I was kind of busy being full of myself and my wonderfulness and not paying too much attention to things that didn't revolve around me!

      As I read it, I thought about former Republicans like Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC, The Lincoln Project, Republican Accountability Project, etc., and how they are all screaming at Democrats exactly what Mr. Kagan is: WAKE THE F*** UP! I don't want any more peaceful placations of "wait and see" from Dems--I am listening to these folks, former Republican soldiers, for the truth about what we are up against.

      Can it be true that Dems don't really get it? That not only do they have knives at this gunfight, but those are butter knives? Is being smarter a detriment versus being cunning, conniving, and calculating? I'm one of those folks who truly believes in the greater good and perhaps this hearkens back to last week's piece about critical thinking? How can I be happy when others suffer? How can I indulge myself when others want? FYI, Sid my friend, that's how the Catholic church taught critical thinking, as hilarious as it seems!

      No, you didn't cause me pain. My brain is a restless organ that needs peace at times, then comes roaring back with fresh outrage and perspective. So there you have it. I'm good to go.

    3. I read the comments before the

      You make a great point. Do we really understand the gravity of it all? Are we really willing to fight? And if not, then what? Take it and like it forever? Are we really equipped and willing to fight the alt right?

      Listen from 10:00- 16:00 at 1.25 speed.
      The first 10 min is just introductions and advertising/plugging stuff.

      "The man was asking "when do we get the guns to deal with these people?". These people are us."

  2. The 2022 and 2024 elections will determine whether this country goes full fascist. Right now I give our odds at 50/50, so there is room for both optimism and pessimism.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite aphorisms:

    An optimist believes we can still create the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist believes we already have...

    And change is the only certainty.

  3. "Trump is different, which is one reason the political system has struggled to understand, much less contain, him."

    Yup, he's a mobbed up bully blowhard. The way you deal with someone like that is put him on his ass with the important parts of your fists. That's why he acts the way he does. He's never had his ass kicked. I'm serious. He's a bully and nothing more. He is the king of bully culture. His followers are the hangers on. The wannabe bullies. The spewer, spewing faux outrage meant to gin up the "victims".

    "His charismatic leadership has given millions of Americans a feeling of purpose and empowerment, a new sense of identity."

    I've been saying this cuz it's all I hear. The poor snowflakes have a leader. The same ones who take from the federal government than they contribute. The same minority voting block. They want it all. Not just some. They want it all and for "libs" to be subserviently quiet about it or else!
    That's a bully and it's mob mentality. It's not nuanced politics. The alt right cultists are calling you out if you disagree with them on literally anything.
    Who's gonna turn the other cheek? Who's gonna say something? Who's gonna do something about it?

    "Because the Trump movement is less about policies than about Trump himself, it has undermined the normal role of American political parties, which is to absorb new political and ideological movements into the mainstream."

    Yesssss...Because it's ego driven and not political.
    This notion that "we can't do anything" whimper whimper is never a problem at all when the alt right is in charge. They can steal SCOTUS appointments. They can stack, pack, erase, and anything else they want to do when they are in power. But the corporate democrats, AKA NOT LIBERAL are destroying government and for the same reasons. Greed.

    When are people gonna wise up? This isn't some game. It's the end. White Nationalist terror. It's storming state capitols and the people inside can do what? The days of peaceful transfers of power are over. I repeat, over. There will always be someone protesting the elections and killing people over it. Intimidation is a feature, not a bug.

    I personally have no time for people who want to compromise and make deals with a bully and his followers.

  4. I think we all realize what is happening and have for quite a while. The big question is what can we realistically do about it? We have Sinema and Manchin screwing up everything and no viable solution to what can be done with them. Due to all of the voter suppression and future rigging of election laws in other states, what we do in our own, if you live in states like CO, WA, CA, etc. doesn't much matter with the electoral vote system and the gerrymandering going on. It is all leaving me more frustrated and depressed and not sure what to do. I can't say this often enough, Dr. Schwab, but you work is tremendously important and I'm glad you are back at it. Likewise those of you who contribute such great comments week after week.

    1. Yes, Dan! I'm weary of the MSM constantly talking-talking-talking about how awful this all is and the politicians they interview talking-talking-talking about what we all see. Yesterday on Twitter, I fired back at Congressman Swalwell asking him in all honestly, what can we do? We elected them to take care of this crap and all we get is talking. Here in safe, blue Washington state we have no dogs in the fight. We are losing our lone Republican elected official (Kim Wyman) to the DHS as the head of election security which was formerly headed by the estimable Chris Krebs--another Washingtonian?--a former Microsoft executive. Republicans are all aflutter about Governor Inslee appointing a "partisan Democrat" to replace her. How easily they accuse Dems of the very things they themselves are guilty of. In 1973, Scoop Jackson died in office and was replaced by Dan Evans, appointed by a Republican Governor. I can't even remember having a Republican Governor in Washington!

      They call Dems Fascists and Authoritarians, when it is they who really are. They bemoan 'big government' when it is they who write laws subverting the will of the people. It is leaving me more frustrated and depressed, too. I get dozens of fund-raising emails every day from Dems when I am already giving to my State party, the DNC, and both committees to elect Congresspersons and Senators. As a retiree, I give as much as I can, but really is that the only thing they can think of to ask of us? Really? More money? You hear my anger, I'm sure.

      I have the tiniest fragment of hope in the back of my head and heart that the floodgates will open and after the infrastructure deal is done, we will see the DOJ and Democrats burst forward in their fury. I'm holding onto that hope, trying to liken it to the orb weaver spiders so prevalent in my yard right now.

    2. hey Mary, a werd of advice...

      Start getting of mailing lists. Because by this time next year it'll be unbearable.

      I once had the mass emailers for money as well. But once I got my sea legs and could see what was what I started eliminating myself from mailing lists. Your mental health will improve rather quickly believe it or not. About 6-8 weeks I was back to abnormal...practically new almost. Wayy better than the alarmist mailers for money designed to trigger emotion by the buckets full. Nobody needs that.

    3. I hear ya Dan...

      "What can I do?"

      That's as easy as it is difficult...
      Here's my 2 cents...

      "Do what makes you happiest" "Do what you want to do" "Do only what you can" is my response.

      For real though. That's it. If everyone did that, we'd have never got here in the first place ;o)

      The good news is that's still, all that's required to fix it, and it'll fix itself rather quickly. Look at the pandemic and the great resignation. Give people time to think, and experience. Then they shall learn by osmosis. There's no labor shortage. There's an over abundance of crappy businesses. Clearly. Right? It's the shit business owners that are failing. Finally.

      People have decided that their lives are most important. Thus I advise folks to only do what makes them happy. Only do what they can. People have lives. All lives matter. We need more stay at home Moms and Dads if you ask me.

      Imagine the amount of volunteerism in schools and parks and rec etc? Imagine the civic duties like school boards and jury duty. Our courts are backlogged mess. Our prisons and jails are inhumane in many cases. We got people still using experimental drugs on death row and brutally killing inmates as fast as they can. That's our government dollars at work? Yes it is. Why?

      People do need to understand Democracy is a hands on style of Government. If you don't tend that garden, the weeds take over. Everyone needs to find a place in their lives for civics. Simply paying someone else to do it doesn't work...Cuz it's a Democracy.

      I think the most important part of successful long term civics engagement is the "Do I wanna do this?" quotient. The higher that quotient, the longer you'll stick with it. The more willing to try other things you'll be. As opposed to getting beat down with emails daily asking for money because the end of the whirled is near and the Earth will no longer spin. There's only so much anyone can take of that. I strongly recommend shutting all the valves off on emails w/o exceptions. Then wait a couple months and reengage only the ones you miss. That will be a number between 0 and 5 most likely moving forward.

      I was going to re-volunteer up here in Skagit County once the Covid went away. Now I am moving to Seattle and am not sure what I want to do. I am moving to ground zero basically. Up on Capitol Hill. I see a lot of homelessness there and I am at a loss to explain why. I will probably start there and see where it takes me. I have been homeless many times in my life so it's a pet concern of mine.

      I don't do a lot these days other than stay educated. There's just not much I want to do at the moment. Covid has put a damper on my 1 on 1 engagements with people. I avoid people like the plague unless I trust them. So if I am talking to you, I trust you. My life is simple that way by design. I am allergic to bullshit.

      I've won the wars with HUD, the ice cream man, my landlord and Skat transit. So I am outta stuff to fix, for now.

      So, these days, I only do what I want to which is read, write and watch hockey. I am gonna stick to that for a while.

      Go KRAKEN!

      Sorry about Grubi Dan :O)

    4. Thanks Mary Ellen and Smoothoperator. Lots of good thoughts. I have basically been ignoring DNC requests at this early stage because I have no idea how they are specifically spending that money. Last time, I tried targeting money to specific races and I think it worked a little. The bigger problem that I can't figure out a good answer to is the Manchin/Sinema, etc. let's make sure our own side doesn't get anything reasonable done problem. If they don't fight it, what is going to occur in 22 and 24 with all of the voter suppression, corruption of election management laws? How do we "Stop the Steal" and rigged elections that are coming down the pike.

      Dan from Colorado

  5. Here's what someone said about the crumbs left in the 3.5 trillion package.

    "This is a moral failure and a political mistake of the first order."

    Yup, it is...but that's the kind of legislation we pass. Why even drag it out this far? Because it keeps us from doing other things. We can't focus on more than one thing? Nope...

    This is stupid...If this gets passed then fine. But don't expect me to vote for you either. The Man-Chin needs this more than almost any state in the union. Tell him 3.5 or nothing!

    Nopers, we coddle him and Sinema. People who don't have voter support. People who need to be voted out and have their powers diminished to the size of their constituency. Not the other way around as it is today. Where the minority rules because the majority is too stupid to understand that? Who's in charge? It ain't Biden. He comes out less than Dracula. He's never around. Biden makes Obama look like a micro managing POTUS.

    This is so frustrating. Why should I fight for some middle class dolt who doesn't understand we are all in this together?
    I can see some serious unrest.

    They took my dental away to save 44 million during hard times(hard times was the excuse for eliminating dental). It cost double 88 million that budget period due to the emergency dental costs. The only costs the state covers. My teeth are a mess. I used to have perfect teeth. They are still all straight...The ones that are not broken and the missing ones. I've had 6 teeth pulled so far and have 2 that needs to go as I sit here. They hurt and my cheek is swollen. Oh well, just another day in the life of the disabled and poor. They go hand in hand. It's a "You are not dying fast enough healthcare plan".

    Why can't ultra popular bills pass in congress? Because they are in it together. Until people realize that, nothing will improve. It'll be how much do we have to give now to shut them up? That's what Biden is selling. Hush money.

    I say 3.5 or nothing and if the "progressives" vote yes on this it'll be chaos.

    1. The Man-Chin just threw a hand grenade into the the negotiations.

      Funny how Biden is away and Man-Chin can be on TV! The I wanna be the next POTUS tour.

  6. This comment wanders off subject, but it is intended to confront the oblivious Christian zealots who trust drumpf's words and actions more than those of Pope Francis.

    I believe that Pope Francis is the most Christ-like pontiff in history. His meeting yesterday confirmed that Joe Biden should continue to receive communion despite the objections of some American bishops who think Biden is not worthy.

    "Bishops who live in glass houses should not throw stones"

    1. Yeah brother...He's a Jesuit. A progressive Catholic for lack of other layman terms.

      That's the difference and I think it makes all the difference. This dude is the only Catholic this side of Stephen Colbert I'd trust with my kids.

  7. This is the mainstream talk show circuit opinion for the most part.

    This notion that "we need to remember you can't win w/o the purple voters." Then how about getting a grip on this. You ain't doing anything if the progressives are not satisfied.

    Progressives didn't take to the streets and vote for Biden and a Dem majority as POTUS, house and senate.
    They came out for equality and justice.

    WHY can't we negotiated prescription drug prices????
    Hmmm? Tell me why that's off the table. Anyone at all explain how that gets cut. WHY can't we tax the rich and close loopholes to pay for stuff? 80%+ of all the voters agree with those two policies. So why is it the progressives are constantly busting their asses to get these people elected then they drop all promises once elected...UNLESS you are a progressive. Progressives want to deliver. Nobody else is really going to do anything other than privatize more public property and more tax cuts for the rich. Privatize gains and socialize the losses. My teeth was one of the first things to go along with all day Head Start and all day Kindergarten. Because times were bad. You remember POTUS dubya right? The destruction of the world economy. It's that guy...War in Iraq for Daddy. That dude.

    People need to wise up. 1.5-1.75 trillion ain't gonna cut it. Joe the Man-Chin can go screw himself after screwing his voting block. It will be 2 people that sink this. Man-Chin and 'ol whatserface. Yunno, the chick who should sue her fashion consultant. That chick. Those 2 will sink it. Not 100 progressives in the house. Those 2 dealt in bad faith and are going to pay dearly for that unless they change their stances.

    Biden's poll numbers are tanking. We put him in office against all better judgment. Bernie could have won the POTUS job until the rest of the candidates dropped out to rescue Biden. Then the "moderates" AKA: Lie and do nothings were saying "You have to vote Dem. or Trump will win again!" That it's these younger progressives especially, but all of them in general, who don't understand how it all works.

    I'd suggest they do know how it all works. That it's an insult to their intelligence to think otherwise. Remember them in the streets all over America?

    Here's what progressives understand better than ever.
    Power gives nothing w/o a demand.

    Full Panel: Frustration Among Democratic Moderates As Vote Delayed

  8. "Stelter makes ominous prediction about right-wing media's impact on elections"

    This is the way I see it. Everyone needs to hear it. He brings up using the guns comment.

  9. Joe needs a nap... (insert 2-6 cuss words here) Pathetic

  10. I am so sick of cops and their poor me. It's like, all they want is supreme power and if you don't like it too bad. We do not believe in equality, but we'll tolerate separate but equal, right? We defiantly need more of these type cops, right?

    I mean how could this possibly go wrong?

    "Supporters of the movement see their elected sheriffs as the last line of defense against unwanted local, state and federal regulations."

    “They are very much in this ‘don’t tread on me’ world that sees the federal government as a very threatening force,” said Michael Zoorob, a fellow at Northeastern University’s Boston Area Research Initiative who studies sheriffs. “They see themselves as an institution that can stand in the way of encroachment of the federal government against communities.”

    "Lomax embraces the unique powers of elected sheriffs, who report directly to voters, unlike police chiefs, who are generally hired and fired at will by city councils. “You pretty much have no authority above you government-wise; you answer to the voters,” Lomax said, adding that despite this freedom he plans to be “a sheriff who enforces the laws.”

    "The constitutional sheriffs movement has gained momentum at a time when sheriffs are playing an outsize political role as lawmakers debate bills to overhaul policing in the wake of George Floyd’s murder."

    "In several states, local and state sheriffs’ associations threatened to pull their support for policing bills if lawmakers didn’t remove provisions that called for banning qualified immunity, a legal defense that provides broad protections for officers in civil lawsuits. And in Congress, sheriffs — who number about 3,000, compared with 13,000 appointed police chiefs — were given significant negotiating power on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act when Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said he would not sign off on legislation that was opposed by the National Sheriffs’ Association.
    Ultimately, negotiations over the bill ended as the association demanded, among other things, that a federal fund be established — and financed by taxpayers — to pay any legal fees associated with civil judgments against officers and deputies, according to several groups involved in the negotiations."

    All they want is to rule with no accountability.

    How about storming the capitol? No worries, you are a "Constitutional" cop and therefore righteously above the law. Swing little kids around in the classroom? No worries...The little guy needed that. Date my 15 year old daughter? No worries, you are above the law, and the family would be honored. Because yunno, all that power.

    Yeah, more cops will fix it!

  11. So that we are "balanced"...Here's the regular tax payer funded cops and how they handle things on the daily.

    Lawsuit Uncovers DISGUSTING Police Behavior During Biden Bus Attack

    So when are we going to demand better law enforcement and less vigilantism?

  12. Well, Dems got their asses kicked

    I bet the "cure" is do even less, but more slowly.


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