Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Truth, By George


“Say hello to George Soros.” That’s how a less-than-love note was signed by a reader. The salutatory suggestion got me thinking. As with most things political, he and I view reality across an unbridgeable fissure. Other than what he hears from Fox and foxoid sources, I wondered, does he even know who George Soros is and what he does when not masterminding all international evil (Jew!!), as portrayed by the screamers of rightwing media? Does the man know where Soros’ money goes?

He might not like his politics. He might wish he gave millions to Republicans instead. Were he not so thoroughly Foxified, he might also challenge the many lies about him. Starting with being a Nazi collaborator.

There’s a fake picture still circulating, showing a person claimed to be Soros, in a Nazi uniform. But he was born in 1930, making him nine years old when WWII began. Like many Jews at the time, his father, having previously changed the family name from Schwartz to Soros, wanting to save his family from the Holocaust (which existed), obtained papers identifying George as Christian. Managed to get him a job, a teenager, accompanying a Nazi bribed to claim to be his godfather, but not, evidently, assisting him in confiscating belongings of fellow Jews. This he did to survive. Would you have refused, facing extermination if your true identity were known? At that age? Here’s an exhaustive exploration of that lie and related others, spread with enthusiasm on rightwing media and still believed.

As a hedge fund manager and currency trader, George Soros made a ton of money, most of which he’s given away, placing him far below the latest rightwing hero, Elon Musk, among the world’s richest (#345, says Forbes). And whereas it’s true he’s among the biggest donors to Democrats while other billionaires donate even more to Republicans, the bulk of his charity has gone to groups around the world striving for democracy.

Looking at the people and organizations who receive his money, his purpose becomes evident, the origins surely in his first-hand witnessing of Naziism and the Holocaust. The name of his main vehicle for giving says it: “The Open Society Foundations.” It’s not hard to understand, based on the title, how lizard-people-seeing Foxotrumpians translate that into “New world order” and “International cabal.”

What it means, though, is democracy; which, as we’ve seen well before President Biden’s win, is anathema to Trump and Trumpism. Likewise Soros’ support for truth in media and for debunking the disinformation which is the daily bread and business model of Fox, Newsmax, OANN, Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, etc., ad deplorablum. Opposite the likes of Toxic Tucker, it’s clear why he’s Foxic enemy number one. Via mediamatters.org and other platforms, here and abroad, he forces truth past lies.

It’d be nice if the following words from the foundation’s webpage would change minds, but, of course, they won’t: “Societies can only flourish when they allow for democratic governance, freedom of expression, and respect for individual rights—an approach at the core of the Open Society Foundations’ work...” Scurrilous, right? Given the expansive Trumpublican preference for authoritarian liars, the threat is evident.

Fact-checking lies is easy, as is discovering the causes in which Soros’ foundations have invested around the world, advancing democracy, supporting groups that resist tyranny. That he’s given, among others, to groups in America seeking accountability in law enforcement translates to “anti-police” in Foxotrumpified minds, when, it should be obvious, working to root out the few bad cops supports the many good ones. But, as with all conspiracy theories, the need to hold them close, unwavering, trumps long-since eliminated desire for truth.

So, why bring up George Soros at all, knowing no minds will change? Because of Trumpublicans’ increasingly anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian drift, including their inexplicable support of Vladimir Putin and his war crimes in Ukraine. Russian media are praising such lowlights as Carlson, Boebert, Gaetz, Gosar, and Greene, for their attacks on President Zelensky; the recipients seem proud of it. No wonder Foxotrumputinists hate Soros. 

Including the kind who loved Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s latest dump of 130 asylum-seeking adults and children, refugees from oppression and poverty, some wearing only T-shirts, on the coldest day on record, in D.C., on Christmas eve. Compare that reprehensible behavior to Soros, whose foundations aid similarly vulnerable people as they seek relief from abuse for themselves and their compatriots.

Who harms America more? How did truly evil Greg Abbott, who, simultaneous with his cruel stunt, issued a praise-Jesus Christmas message, beat Beto O’Rourke? And what’s the over/under on House Republicans seating Trump-level liar George Santos?

The world needs more people doing what George Soros does, not fewer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Rhymes For The Crimes And The Times


It’s common at this time of year
To spread around holiday cheer.
Recount every reason
That during the season
A reader should shed ne’er a tear.

Ordinarily you know that I’d lust
To report on the ravings of Musk.
But it mustn’t be now
To be pointing out how
He’s becoming the elephant’s tusk.

Nor will I opine, though she’s scary
On the loser whose name starts with Kari.
I’ll not be lent ears
From my like-minded peers.
I come just to praise her not bury.

If I can’t always say something good
My mommy said clearly I should
Speak nothing at all
So I’m making the call
To say all the nice things I could.

On the day before night before gifts
I’ll not be promoting more rifts.
I’ll be nice as pie,
My thoughts aiming high
So readers won’t leave feeling miffed.

I won’t take us in the direction
Of Trump’s clear-as-day insurrection.
The holiday spirit
Demands that I gear it
Toward ignoring his claim of election.

A landslide he’s calling it still.
His cultists were itching to kill
The people with guts
To point out he’s nuts
And that facts to support him are nil.

But far be it from me now it’s Yule
To remind us of law and its rule.
Or the party of law
Dislocating its jaw
Lest words pass it that prove he’s a fool.

Our stockings I’ll hang by the fire.
And won’t be bogged down in the mire
Of politics mean
Nor sully the scene
Of hope and the dreams we aspire.

So as we approach Christmas eve,
Let us hold in our hearts and believe...

Okay, who am I kidding? Watching the final January Six Committee meeting, as they recounted the catalog of Trump’s crimes and those of his henchflock, I recalled how it all began with the contemptuous lie he pumped well before the election. Because, in his destitute mind, Donald, who knows more about everything than anyone, could only lose by massive fraud. It’s conceivable he actually believed it; it’s inconceivable that anyone still does.

The hearings presented compelling evidence; not from libtard, Trump-hating commies or members of an imaginary deep state, but from his own team, some of whom, unlike their boss, improbably believed in Constitutional democracy.

One after another, they confirmed that he knew he lost, had been told repeatedly that there was no fraud, that he didn’t care, that he reveled in watching besotted supporters incriminate themselves, on video, as they trashed our nation’s capital, bewitched into thinking they were “stopping the steal.” Ruining their lives for his lies.

The committee’s report is encyclopedic, and includes much more. Yet House Republicans are planning their own “investigation,” aimed at discrediting the current committee’s findings. Findings, we’ve seen, based on irrefutable facts and sworn testimony. Taking millions of Americans along for the ride, they’ll engage in unprecedented, party-wide abetting of criminality and corruption.

Trump lost a fraud-free election. He refused to accept it. He chose lawbreaking on multiple levels in multiple venues to overturn the will of the people, subvert the Constitution, and end what remained of democracy after four years of ignoring it. No American should tolerate it; none who accept the requirements of citizenship in a democratic republic. Which excludes every remaining Trumpist, every rightwing media star, and almost every Republican member of Congress. Confirming everything we’ve known about what’s become of that party, Liz Cheney, as reliably hardcore, far-right conservative as it gets, lost her job by a huge margin to an election denier. It’s Jonestown, but slower.

But, golly, we hear, it’s unprecedented to indict a former president. It’ll tear the country apart. It’ll be divisive. Really? How can we be more divided, how much aparter torn by defenders of Trump’s crimes? Of course it’s unprecedented, and we’re lucky it is. Until Trump, no president had conspired to overturn an election, to upend democracy with outrageous lies and deceit. Long term, the consequences for democracy of accepting this egregious “presidential” criminality are far greater than freeze-dried, just-add-water Trumpfoxian outrage over punishing it.

How sad at this holiday time
To dwell upon obvious crime
While those in Trump’s thrall
Are excusing it all.
Their justice is not worth a dime.

A palinode I’ll not out-dole
Nor mention the secrets Trump stole.
I know it’s the time
To stop making rhyme
And to help make our country be whole.

So no, I will not have us sup
Or drink from reality’s cup.
I’ll say what the hell,
Everything is just swell.
Trump’s down but we must let him up.

It’s Christmas, after all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Those Texts

The website Talking Points Memo, got hold of thousands of texts between Mark Meadows, Trump’s one-time chief of staff, and a basketful of members of Congress (34 of them) along with a bunch of other Republican role-players around the country. Tons of texts, 450 of which went to the 34, regarding the fair election Trump lost, and ways to overturn it; plus the runup to the failed January 6 insurrection, and beyond. It’s illuminating.

Reading the TPM series, there’s no denying the seditious depth of their intentions; their undisguised disregard for democratic processes; their willingness to turn to violence and totalitarianism. Perhaps surprising to people less intent on observation is the amount of paranoid, conspiratorial, uninformed insanity of those people. Elected people. Reelected; not, presumably, in spite of their derision of democracy, but because of it.

Key players included Jim Jordan (R-OH), Jody Hice (R-GA), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA, Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz (Rs-TX), and more. Maybe some of them actually believed the ridiculous “news” and theories they were pushing. If so, they’re too lacking in judgment to play any role in the future of our country. If not, they belong in prison. Well, prison either way, probably. Some examples:

From Texas Congressman/dental-American, Brian Babin: “Mark, When we lose Trump we lose our Republic... [We] refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship. Liberty!” Seriously? Among the Foxotrumpified, he’s not alone in his delusion, nor in a lack of irony: corrupt Marxist dictatorship! From a guy plotting to overthrow a democratic election. Like a Marxist dictator. And, contra rightwing media screamers, absent anything to suggest impending Marxist dictatorship, if he even could define it. Same with those who believe that’s exactly what the Biden presidency is.

Paul Gosar, R-AZ, another dental-American who can’t separate tooth from fiction, forwarded a claim from a website named, not kidding, “Some Bitch Told Me,” that China had purchased Dominion Voting Machines for $400 million (false), proving dark deeds afoot.

Jim Jordon, R-OH, likely upcoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, quoted Alexander Hamilton, who wrote that if a law passed by Congress is unconstitutional, it can’t be valid. Therefore, he concluded, duly elected Electoral College electors must be invalid. The gaps in that brilliant extrapolation from A to somewhere weren’t filled in. He’ll make the Judiciary Committee great again, for sure.

Then there’s Rick Allen, R-GA. You’ll have to read it yourself, because I can’t even.

Ted Budd, R-NC, claimed all-powerful, all-knowing, has-a-plan-for-us-all George Soros manipulated the voting machines. Probably from space.

Three days before inauguration day, Ralph Norman, R-SC, wrote to Meadows, “... we are at a point of no return in saving our Republic!! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!!...” MTG called for the same. It’s bizarre. It’s insane. It’s bad spelling.

There’s far too much to address in a single, space-limited newspaper column. Follow the link to TPM. Then consider the implications for the future of America. Ponder the delusional and dangerous depths to which the Republican party has descended. Mull the promise Kevin McCarthy has made to put the worst of the worst, including Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and others featured ravingly in the texts, on important committees. Chair them, even. The doodoo in which we find ourselves, thanks to them, is deep.

Embarrassing to the US as their behavior is on some level, and subject to ridicule, it’s also really, really scary. These are so-called Republican so-called leaders. About to take charge of half of a third of our government. Fully in the thrall of a sociopathic narcissist and his pre-packaged election lies, they were, like him, unable to accept that he’d lost fair and square.

When they’re in charge, we can hope they’ll reveal their unseriousness so undeniably that they’ll turn away enough voters to bring their party back to its former respectability. In preparation for that day, I’ll be selling umbrellas strong enough to protect from airborne Sus scrofa domesticus.

To a somewhat heartening degree, there’s evidence that, since the time of those texts, Trump’s star is waning among Republicans. But, lest we allow the cooling power of hope into our overheated minds, consider the person vying to be next: Ron DeSantis, currently following up on his derelict pandemic policies, which placed Florida among the states with the highest Covid death rates per population (red states all), by seeking a grand jury investigation of vaccines. And who believes attacking and lying about LGBTQ people, criminalizing teaching about gender issues, is winning political policy. This bodes well neither for his party nor for America.

But gas prices and inflation are dropping. Blamed by Trumpublicans for the rise of both, no doubt President Biden is about to receive accolades from the same people. So there’s that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Constitution? What Constitution?

Last weekend featured the explosive, mind-blowing, scandalous, earth-shaking, unimaginably horrifying news that pre-Musk Twitter, following concomitantly-revealed discussions of its published content guidelines, agreed to a request from pre-president Biden’s campaign to remove pornographic photos and questionably-sourced Hunter Biden emails. They also took down a link (for one day!) to a newspaper story about Hunter. Not the story. A link. The article was and remains in the public domain.

Also in author Matt Taibbi’s pivotal tweetstorm was news that Twitter had similarly acceded to requests from Trump’s campaign. Not important. Same with Fox “news” and other right-wing media suppressing stories damaging to Trump while pushing lies favorable to him.  

The shocking revelations lit up right-wing media like the Boeing plant at night. With characteristic restraint, Tucker Carlson determined it to be “… a systemic violation of the First Amendment, the largest example of that in modern history.” Which begs the obvious: why is “Congress shall make no law…” so incomprehensible to Foxotrumpists? Like it or don’t, Twitter can publish or reject however it wants. It’s not Congress. It’s not our government; not yet, anyway. 

Unlike Russia’s undeleted fake posts, removing questionable content isn’t election interference, claims from the right notwithstanding. The First Amendment has nothing to do with Twitter’s or any private entity’s censorship choices. People who pine to peek at a presidential progeny’s penis must procure portals patiently, elsewhere. Helpfully, Ted Cruz immediately flashed his online fans with it.

It’s the scandal of Republican crackpipe dreams, a Trump-tax-fraud-ignoring excuse to continue fanning falsehoods while presenting no solutions to critically important issues: climate change, healthcare, energy solutions, child poverty, and more. Not even to the issues on which they ran: crime, inflation, “wide open” borders. To them, Hunter Biden’s genitals demand closer inspection than Jared Kushner’s gentle tales of receiving $2 billion from his pal, journalist-murdering, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman. Or Ivanka traveling to China during Trump’s “presidency” to secure copyrights for her businesses.

Not one to share the spotlight, not even with his most fervid defenders, Trump had some randomly-capitalized thoughts: “So with the revelation of MASSIVE FRAUD AND DECEPTION ... do you throw the 2020 presidential election results OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER or do you have A NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution…” he truthed, socially. “Termination.” “All rules.” “Even those found in the Constitution.” Also: MASSIVE.

Plug your ears while giving Trump’s fulmination the consideration it deserves, lest your brain seeks an exit. A former “president,” psychopathologically unable to admit he lost a convincingly fraud-free election, would “terminate” -- not merely suspend! --the Constitution over what amounts to nothing. (He’s now truthing that he didn’t say what he said. In print.)

Predictably, Trumpists’ anger was white-hot. One, a former House candidate, wrote, "We can no longer get rid of tyranny by the ballots. It's only by bullets now." Tyranny! The danger of Trump’s present and lifelong disregard for the law couldn’t be more obvious. That he was ever his party’s choice is an indelible stain on America. That he could be again sullies us all.

How will the “party of law and order” react when Trump is indicted for multi-level law-breaking and repeatedly fomenting violence? A few lesser-known Republicans have spoken – mildly -- against Trump’s screed. Yet none, so far, have said they’d refuse to vote for him if he becomes their nominee. Other than principled Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, and Representative Liz Cheney, R-WY, who rightly called him “an enemy of the Constitution,” how have Republican icons, like McConnell, Cruz, Graham, MTG, etc., condemned Trump’s anti-Constitutional tirade? For convenience, their words are collected and summarized here.

Stemming directly from Trump’s insane election lie, this is serious stuff. It ought to end his claim on his party, forever. Any remaining supporters must admit that, like Trump, the Constitution means nothing to them. 

For a clear and comprehensive summary, beginning with the laptop (which, by now, may be corrupted), continuing to the present, Robert Hubbell’s newsletter is worth your time. And this, from history professor Heather Cox Richardson.

But let’s not end on funereal news. Remember when Ron DeSantis proudly declared, “Florida is where woke goes to die”? Well, in a trial in which he’s being sued for his publicity-seeking, vote-chasing bullying of the LGBTQ community, the judge asked his lawyer to define “woke.” The unexpectedly truthful answer: "The belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them." 

Florida: where justice goes to die, from Tallahassee to Mar-a-Lago.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Rocky Mountain Low

If, in a few hundred years, historians (assuming humans still exist) seek to understand the fall of the Republican party, followed closely by the fall of the United States, they’d find it perfectly encapsulated in the murders, a couple of weeks ago, in a Colorado LGBT nightclub. It’s all there.

Increasingly desperate for a hook on which to reel in voters for whom they’ve had nothing to offer, legislatively, ever since electing Ronald Reagan, leaders and media mouthpieces of that once-respectable party have turned to denigration. Aimed at the LGBT community, immigrants, people of color, and, just reaffirmed down Mar-a-Lago way, Jews. Except in a couple of states, Trump’s voter fraud lie is losing appeal, so attacking non-straight, non-white, non-Christian, non-native-born people it is.

Whenever hate crimes are committed against those groups, the flame-fanners deny responsibility. Tucker Carlson makes millions pushing lies about “grooming” children. Screaming Marjorie Taylor Greene and gun-slinging Coloradan Lauren Boebert get elected on it. Ron DeSantis hopes to become president on it. Rightwing media marinate in it. But when someone takes their hideous mendacity seriously and does some murdering about it, the well-rehearsed response from the purveyors is “Who, me?” Followed, when culpability is suggested, by cries of “politicizing a tragedy.”

How deeply embedded is their incendiary, malevolent anti-LGBT rhetoric? The father of the murderer, himself a former porn star, said this on hearing what his son had done: “… I go on to find out it’s a gay bar. I got scared, 'S#!t, is he gay?' And he’s not gay, so I said, phew… I’m a conservative Republican and we don’t do gay.” Phew, indeed. Just an assassin. To a Foxified “conservative Republican,” there’s worse, evidently. Data for historians.

A war veteran, and Hispanic, the man who took down the shooter was there with his wife, adult daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend (who was among those murdered). After what he’d seen and done in combat, he’d sworn off guns; took the guy down bare-handed.

This embarrassed the good-guy-with-a-gun (and white-supremacist) crowd, who, rather than praising him as they did delusional, self-righteous killer Kyle Rittenhouse, attacked him for bringing his family to a drag show. Because, you know, something-something drag shows. Had he stopped the massacre with a gun, he’d have been all over rightwing media; offered jobs, encouraged to run for office. Like Rittenhouse.

Colorado has “red flag” laws. The shooter had previously exhibited numerous red-flag behaviors. But, having declared his county a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” the local sheriff, along with several others in other Colorado counties (and now, sadly, some in neighboring Oregon) had pledged not to enforce those laws. And didn’t. Historians take note.

Adding to the historical record came the aftermath. Uber-monger Tucker had on his show a woman with this to say: “… the tragedy that happened in Colorado Springs the other night, it was expected and predictable.” Was she referring to Tucker’s previous tirades? Of course not. “I don’t think it’s going to stop until we end this evil agenda that is attacking children,” she added, referring to helping trans children, all but excusing the motives of the criminal.

Former Trump attorney, Jenna Ellis, chimed in with this about the victims: “… There is no evidence that they were Christians… They are now reaping the consequences of eternal damnation.” God sides with murderers, evidently. Historians may find that informative

Which returns us to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump dined last week with outspoken antisemite Kanye West, along with white supremacist, holocaust denier, attendee of the Charlottesville “Jews will not replace us” rally, Nick Fuentes. Trump claims he had no idea who Fuentes was. He did, however, know Kanye’s antisemitic views, and invited him. By now he knows all about Fuentes, too. Has he disavowed him? Nope. Praised him. "He gets me."

At this point, some readers are composing letters accusing me of characterizing all Republicans as racist, homophobic, antisemitic, xenophobes. Rather than addressing their unacknowledged projection, let’s celebrate this week’s passage of the imperfect but important Respect for Marriage Act. Whereas seventy percent of senate Republicans voted no, around thirty percent said yes. Non-hateful Republicans do exist, and when they’re willing to partner with Democrats, it doesn’t require a majority of them to make good things happen.

Fox “news” and the rest of rightwing media are all in on grooming haters. So is Trump. Nothing will get those democracy-rejecting sheriffs and other no-regulation absolutists to listen to reason. But if actual conservatives would spend less time being offended by critics and more time working to change their unconservative party from within, Republican leadership might rejoin our democracy. And, in time, rid us of their traffickers in performative hate, ready to waste the next two years doing nothing but “sticking it to the libs.” Historians could study that happier phenomenon.

Monday, November 21, 2022

A Dusty Trunk And A Cardboard Box

This column was sent in the day before Thanksgiving, appearing now the day after. I trust everyone remains in a pleasant tryptophan buzz. Because we’ll have spent it on the Oregon coast with our son’s family, including two much-loved grandkids, I’ll assume we had a wonderful time. So, rather than harshing the mallows on the sweet potatoes, by addressing the approaching hellscape coming into view as Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, I’ll revisit something I wrote on another Thanksgiving, from our former family home at Cannon Beach. The politics can wait. Here’s what I wrote: 

Ten days before I was born, my father died. Three years earlier, my mom had been a twenty-one-year-old bride, excited and optimistic, proud of marrying the brilliant young physician whose given name I bear, and whose family name is my middle. I know he was brilliant because over the years I've heard it from many of his former colleagues and patients, and because when he married he'd just finished his term as Chief Medical Resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. At that time, the position was highly selective and much sought: the plumbest of prestigious plumbs.

We're at our family home on the Oregon coast, where my wife and I have been rummaging through the contents of a trunk hiding in plain sight for many years. In it we found my mom's first bridal book (she married my adoptive dad when I was young enough that I have no real recollection of being fatherless. Their marriage lasted sixty years, till death did they part.) 

Seeing these mementos for the first time is haunting, knowing the ending: all the happiness, the smiling people, the florid and joy-filled notes vouching their certainty of the couple's future. Lists of gifts, with checkmarks after each, denoting timely acknowledgment. Dozens of telegrams: congratulations and love. Stop. A dime-store booth photo of the happy couple; a picture from the "society section" of the paper, showing Mom in a flowing gown, wearing a bonnet made from her mother-in-law's wedding dress.

Perfectly preserved, there's an announcement of the opening of my father's office in the Medical Arts Building -- still standing in downtown Portland -- for the practice of "Internal Medicine and diagnosis," under which, in my mom's hand, is the breathless exclamation "the first of these went to me!!" It's easy to relate to the nervous excitement of opening a medical office after all those years of study. But I know how the story turns out.

When I applied to college I indicated "pre-law" as my probable direction, but when I got to Amherst I took all the pre-med courses I'd need, just in case.

During my first summer back home, my mom brought out a box of letters and cards she'd gotten when my father died. They were from friends, colleagues, and patients, all with the same sentiments: a tragic loss, a brilliant career cut short, a young widow with two babies (my brother, a year-and-a-half old at the time). And the continuity of life: his death, my birth. That box, I think, had much to do with my eventual decision in favor of a career in medicine. The outlier in a family of lawyers: dad, brother, aunt, uncle.

My father died after an operation for hyperthyroidism. Feared and frequently fatal in those days, it was postoperative “thyroid storm,” virtually unknown now with the advent of greater understanding and better drugs. I've done that operation many times. Here's how I described my first, in a book I wrote about my training days: 

I’d given no thought to the factors that made me choose medicine, and then surgery, and then the kind that did thyroid operations, until I found myself doing the very operation that had killed my father, having made the simple preparations that would have saved him. As I entered the OR, I wondered: would it be a B-movie moment, a zoom-in on my sweaty brow as I froze up, the nurse asking, “Is something wrong, doctor?”

It didn’t happen. The operation flowed. Had it been a way of meeting the man I never knew, who never knew me? Of symbolically saving his life, while the quest saved my own? A meeting of souls in the ether, as it were? I’ve thought about it since then. I like the idea, but I’m pretty sure the answer is no.

It's possible, it turns out, to miss someone you’ve never known. I wish I had. I wish he’d seen me as a doctor; I miss talking with him about it. The last thing my mom remembers hearing from him, as he went off to surgery, is "You look really cute. I think I'll keep you pregnant all the time."

Still and all, and notwithstanding MTG’s ascent, I have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Hopeful Signs

Last week’s election results, some of which are still pending, turned my unrelenting pessimism into chary optimism. Nearly all Trump-touted terribles were defeated, including, importantly, every one of his election-denying, would-be secretaries of state, who’d have been able to decertify future elections if the wrong people won. The truly awful, prevaricating but nice-looking election-denier, Kari Lake, also lost. Like Trump, she’ll claim fraud forever.

Nevertheless, many Trumpian losers’ races were disturbingly close. Belief in The Big Lie and in Trump’s innocence of obvious crimes is wounded, but, like heavy breathing on a midnight phone call, still panting. Exposing their nationwide, vote-suppression agenda, the R candidate for Wisconsin governor promised that if he won, no Republican would ever lose again. He lost, but not hugely. Vigilance remains essential. The work of democracy isn’t term-limited. 

Ohioan Tim Ryan’s graceful concession speech reminds us what it means to accept the requirements of democracy. “I have the privilege to concede this race to J.D. Vance,” he said; a touchstone for all Americans. By contrast, several Trumpists, including a notable downstate Washingtonian, some of whom lost by huge margins, have refused to concede. This time, though, decent, undeceived Republicans showed up. By enough Republicans to have made a difference in some places, democracy is still considered worth preserving. Maybe MAGAs will give it some thought. 

Also hopeful is that younger voters showed up, too, in unprecedented numbers. They’re the future, and it’s clear their values align more with today’s Democrats than Republicans: Equality, voting rights, climate change, women’s reproductive freedom, democracy itself. “Values voters,” let’s call them.

In Pennsylvania, for example, about seventy percent of young voters voted for John Fetterman. And whereas they turned out in record numbers, it was still only thirty-percent of those eligible. Which means there remains a large reservoir of educable people, within which, presumably, future votes would favor Democrats. Puzzlingly, older white women still largely favored Republicans. Hard to figure. For what are they voting? Pollution? Bad schools?

Conceding their lack of positive ideas for attracting those upcoming generations, many Republican electeds are proposing raising the voting age to anywhere between twenty-one and twenty-eight. It’s laughable, but definitely on brand. Their dearth of helpful plans couldn’t be made clearer. 

Nothing schadens my freude more than Trump’s increasingly desperate, detached, and widely-reported meltdown, as many of his formerly reliable excusers are blaming him for the fizzled “Red Tsunami.” In the nascent war between him and DeSantis, I’d welcome either as the Republican nominee for 2024. Notwithstanding the media fawning over Reactionary Ron, this election made it doubtful either could win. To enough voters, Trump is manifestly poison. After attendees were prevented from leaving his (indictment-escaping?), lie-filled,  disturbingly authoritarian announcement, previous megadonors are bailing. Even Ivanka.

Outside Florida, DeSantis’ radical and cruel policies are poisonous, too. As a believer in the two-party system, I’d hope Rs have someone better. But maybe not till Democrats finish re-greating America.   

Close races confirm that Trumpism still lurks. Plenty of money will be spent on future dishonest, inflammatory, Tiffanoid ads, intended to keep MAGA Republicans in line and misinformed. But the fact that Lauren Boebert might have lost in a heavily-gerrymandered district, created as a lock for any R candidate, suggests there are many Republican voters who’ve had it with performative nastiness. MTG, Matt Gaetz, et awful, won easily, though. America needs conservatives who voted against such people to spread the word.

I’ve pleaded, many times, for those actual conservatives to pitch in and speak out. Based on these election results, some Republican voters are waking up to the dangers of Trumpism. That’s encouraging.

The runoff election between Rafael Warnock and Herschel Walker will be instructive. If Warnock wins decisively, it’ll be confirmatory. If he loses, or wins in a squeaker, well, optimism will take a bit of a hit. Because the fact that R leaders looked to Walker in the first place, knowing how dishonest and clueless he is, how unable to form a coherent, not-weird sentence, how disturbing his past, confirms the depth of their disregard for competent government: it’s only about gaining power on behalf of their biggest donors, by whatever means necessary. Imagine Walker, having nothing but a Heisman Trophy to recommend him, as one of a hundred senators responsible for our future. It doesn’t get more cynical than that. 

Finally, barely-eked Republican control of the House will showcase their distaste for responsible governance, as they focus entirely on shrunken-base-appeasing, lib-sticking investigations into law-abiding and competent people, which, unlike Trump’s two impeachments and the January 6 Committee’s findings, will be demonstrably vaporous. If 2022’s enlightened Republican voters have any second thoughts, that should end them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Calling Of Surgery

Despite being mostly pleased, I find myself uninterested in commenting on Tuesday’s elections. Maybe next week. So here’s something corny I wrote, years ago, for an obscure medical publication: 

Being a surgeon, having the lives of fellow humans literally in your hands, is intimacy that only surgeons can fully grasp; it never stopped stopping my breath, never dulled me to its privilege. I never stopped saying to others in the operating room, “Look, at this. Isn’t it beautiful?”

How do you explain enveloping a living liver in your hand, its firm, slippery smoothness; or the pleasure of sewing bowel segments together in a way passed down by pioneering surgeons, laying it back in place, knowing no one else will see or appreciate the – dare I say -- artistry of it?

I was taught by great and generous surgeons. I learned well. But I never considered myself special: Electricians learn, too. Lawyers. Teachers. The difference, perhaps, is intensity. And immediacy: dozens of big and small decisions need making during an operation, instantly; there are no hiding places in the OR.

Receiving that trust is a daunting honor. As I wrote in my memoir of surgical residency, “A surgeon can kill you, and you’d sleep right through it.” I should have said “An inadequately trained surgeon.” Surgical residency gets bad press: too hard; cruel, even. But, at least in my long-ago time, it inculcated the most fundamental requirements of a surgeon: knowing your limits and accepting responsibility. Doctors who don't know when they’re in over their head are dangerous. Ones who avoid responsibility for outcomes aren’t to be trusted.

My career straddled very different eras. In training, the easy rotations were those in which I spent all days and every other night in the hospital; on the rest, it was twelve days and nights out of fourteen. Entering San Francisco General Hospital as Chief Resident on the trauma service, I didn’t leave for sixty days. I won't argue it was sensible (actually, I might), but I came out well-trained, comprehensively experienced, tempered by fire. Now, with working hour restrictions (based on a mischaracterized incident in NYC), it’s less true. Feeling unready, graduates increasingly seek subspecialty fellowships. More and more, we general surgeons are relics of times past.

I finished residency committed to being there for my patients, always. In my practice I made hospital rounds at least twice daily, more for the sick ones; whether on or off call, I felt better seeing my post-ops every day. My mentors wouldn’t have accepted anything less. Looking back, was it an overblown sense of irreplaceability, that no one could care for my patients as well as I? Whatever it was, I felt bad if I didn’t. And yet, when I retired, people did fine.

So I burned out. This era of reduced hours isn't all bad. I imagine newly-trained surgeons aren't as likely to bail out early. The pleasures of surgery remain: the marvels of the human body, knowing its anatomical secrets, the nooks and crannies, the hidden spaces into which you're allowed entry, knowing what to do. It’s still a binary world, though: you succeed (mostly) or you fail (sometimes). But the exhaustion? Maybe not so much. These days, surgeons might have a life, as they did during training.

Many hospitals now have both medical and surgical hospitalists, 24/7. Calls from the emergency department, the bane of my existence, no longer interrupt schedules of office-based surgeons, or their sleep. The hospital-based have predictable work hours and freedom from much of the administrative hassles that drove me nuts.

After retiring, I spent several months as the first and only surgical hospitalist in town, working ten-hour days (sometimes more) five days a week. Other than the lack of long-term connection to my patients, I liked it. Later, I spent several relatively stress-free years assisting on complex cancer operations, able to continue to be useful, yet sleep through the night.

In many ways, a general surgeon is like a family doctor who can operate. I'd argue there's no specialty that demands the same breadth of knowledge and range of skills. Surgery encompasses the pleasure of accomplishment and, occasionally, a heart-rending feeling of failure; the ability to do much good while balancing on the scalpel-edge of the potential for harm. I felt it every time I entered the OR, or left it to talk to waiting families, with good news or bad. I felt it in every office consultation where I tried to instill hope and confidence, to allay fears, to map a path from where we were to where we wanted to be.

Connecting. Able to help. That was always the best part.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Last Chance To Choose

Far be it from me to blame the attack on Paul Pelosi by a guy who posts typical Qanon/ Trumpofoxian blather, on people like Marjorie Taylor Green, who called Speaker Pelosi a traitor who should be executed; or Tucker Carlson, et Fox, who demonize her in the most inflammatory language; or Junior Trump comparing her to Satan.

Near be it to me to point out the despicable responses to the attack from fellow Americans on the right: False flag. Staged. A gay liaison gone wrong. Nancy’s fault. What about Steve Scalise? (About whom the satanic Speaker said at the time: "It's an injury in the family. For the staff and for our colleague and for his leadership. We cannot let that be a victory for the assailant or anyone who would think that way.”) The right-wing Pelosi response also featured gleeful mockery and what they consider hilarity, including from Trump spawn.  

As it happens, the would-be kidnapper and torturer’s confessional isn’t hard to find. And the break-in was caught on camera; they debunk all the Trumpistry. But MAGARs prefer conspiratorial cruelty. Retractions? Apologies? Not who they are. Not who their leader is.

Our politics have become too toxic. It’s incumbent upon us all to tone down the rhetoric.

Is what people say. Extend a hand, readers advise. Seek common ground. I don’t dispute the premise, but where? Does Hawaiian ground seek commonality with Mauna Loa’s lava? In these, the times that gave us Trump, common ground has become scorched earth.

What more can be said to MAGA Republican election deniers, after all this time with zero evidence of fraud, that would change their minds? The outreaching of which hand might convince them that climate change is real, even as glaciers melt, fires rage, oceans warm and acidify, and storms and heat waves bring death worldwide? That there aren’t 87,000 new IRS agents coming for their middle-class money; that Democrats aren’t for “open borders”? That the transgressions of January Six weren’t patriotic?

If there’s been political violence on “both sides,” there’s no equivalence, no comparable approval or fomenting from the left. In the past twenty years, there have been 122 political murders by right-wing American terrorists; by the left, one. Two-hundred sixty-seven right-wing plots or attacks since 2015; 66 by lefty extremists. Nor is there equivalence in the lies coming from each side, including from the very top; or asking crowds to beat up protestors, promising to pay legal fees. Or in whose media conspiracy theories and other falsehoods spread like herpes. Only Trump has called America “Rigged, Crooked, and Evil.”  

The explanation isn’t difficult: in Trumpistan, democracy is the ultimate foe. Also, it’s too hard. Autocracy is easy.

For democracies to endure, citizens must accept two most basic requirements: first, that voters make the effort to educate themselves about their political world. Which, in today’s calamitous climate, means ceaseless effort to extricate singular truths from multitudinous lies.

Second, the lifeblood of functioning democracies – no longer of interest to MAGA Republicans and their propagandistic progenitors – is willingness to accept electoral, legislative, and judicial outcomes with which one disagrees. Including support for the peaceful, post-election transfer of power. Which is not to suggest remaining silent or forgoing working to effect change.

Because that’s the thing about democracies: not everyone agrees with you, and sometimes they win. MAGA is code for “return all power to white Christian males.” As that goal is threatened by our Constitutionally-mandated democratic processes, Trumpists are attempting to end them. Election denial is democracy rejection. It’s not mysterious.

The hard work of democracy affords little time off, whereas submitting to authoritarianism is a full-time vacation from responsibilities of citizenship. Go to rallies, thrill to the stoking. Trust your deified leader to tell you what to think, who’s your enemy, whom to blame for your failures; who’s your inferior, trying to take what you have. Or had, before that voting thing. Which must be repudiated, along with the undesirables it empowers. It’s history, in repetition mode.

And it’s Trump’s greatest con. And R leaders’. And every right-wing media star’s. Convincing millions who think they love this country to reject its indispensable Constitutional principles, while believing they’re upholding them. Accepting intentional destruction of democracy-preserving public education and fair elections. Persuaded to extinguish democracy, assured that, in doing so, they’re saving themselves. Ceding power (and riches) to Trumpic clones, who’ll protect them from not-them.

It's ironic. Once their preferred autocracy is established, they’ll have no more power than the ones from whom they think they regained it. Democracy, they’ll discover, is what kept them safe. It’s a lesson too late for the learning, made of lies, made of lies.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Divide And Conquer

How divided are we? Polls show 80% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans “believe the political opposition poses a threat that, if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.” I’m in the first group. The Republicans I know personally are in the 20% of their side, but they’re actual conservatives, not MAGA Republicans, so it doesn’t really count. They’re inquisitive and well-informed. 

The findings are unsurprising. But here’s the thing: Democrats’ view is reality-based, while Republicans’ is based on deliberate misinformation, plus a bucketful of Q. It’s easy to prove.

This past weekend, for example, Trump claimed to his adoring crowd that Biden’s is a communist regime. Neither he nor his idolaters, we conclude, have a clue what communism is. Well, maybe Trump knows; but he doesn’t care, as long as he can sucker the ovine; for them, it’s because they believe every Trumpofoxian lie they hear and aren’t inclined to check, much less know how. 

Were it true, of course, they’d be right. Truth, though: Further from the, it couldn’t be. Nonetheless, they’re prepared to end America in order to keep Democrats from ending America. Destroy the village to save it, like Vietnam. 

Trump also opined that certain journalists should be summarily incarcerated and, subtle as only he can be, subjected to prison rape till they reveal their sources. Oh, how they laughed and cheered. Are Democrats wrong to find this ominous? 

More: Republican influencers are no longer pretending to hide their antisemitism. After his crazy “death to Jews” remarks, Kanye “Ye of little sanity” West has been featured on Tucker Carlson’s show, as well as those of other right-wing screamers. Trump, too, made despicable threats to Jews around the same time. Need we discuss Margorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert in that regard? Likewise, attacks on Jews and synagogues are increasing alarmingly. If these things have been happening for centuries, it’s only now (“good people on both sides”) that they’ve been given “presidential” imprimatur and fawning airtime on right-wing “news” media. 

And how about this: in Arizona, body-armor-wearing, heavily-armed, night-vision device-using “poll watchers” have been intimidating voters dropping off their ballots. Calling them “mules,” a la the execrable Dinesh D’Souza’s debunked conspiracy-promoting movie. Who doubts those guys believe Democrats will destroy America? Like most Republicans, they’re believers in Trump’s election lies. And they’re but a small sample among many, ready and “trained” to do the same, country-wide.

It harkens to post-Civil War poll-watching behavior in the South when Blacks began voting; and it comes from the same disturbing disposition. Is it unrealistic to think that, if such people and the ones they elect are put in charge, it will end the American experiment? It should bump the 80% to 100. 

Which party’s candidates say they’ll only accept election results if they win? Which one is banning books? Demanding silence on gender issues? Turning women and their doctors into felons, neighbors into informers? Claiming teaching America’s full history is intended to make white children feel guilty? Perpetuating lies about “grooming” children to become gay? Only one side believes Tucker when he calls the other side “a child sacrifice cult,” and makes him the top cable “news” “personality.”

Based on such hyperbolic mendacity, of course Trumpists think Democrats would end America. Of course they’d vote for an unqualified liar like Herschel Walker or a carpetbagging medical quack like Mehmet Oz. And of course Democrats would find such easy and successful indoctrination disquieting.

And what is it about Republicans and their love of America’s obvious enemy, Vlad the Assailer Putin, even in the face of his horrifying war crimes? Kevin McCarthy says when Trumpublicans take over, money for Ukraine will be on the chopping block. Is that a signal to “Russia, if you’re listening” to help R candidates, as they did for Trump, rewarded by getting Ukraine? Where are American values in that? Where is its future?

Do they not threaten to cut Medicare and Social Security? Do they not want more top-heavy tax cuts, even after Trump’s supercharged the deficit, and after the UK’s stunning economic crash when its not-ready-for-Prime Minister did just that, to effusive, pre-crash praise from Republicans? Are they not ignoring the fact that the budget deficit dropped by $1.2 billion this year? Or that the rate of inflation in the US isn’t even in the top ten worldwide? Are they lying about Democrats raising taxes on middle-income workers? 

Oh, but “woke” liberals support tax and voting fairness, women’s rights, healthcare for all, protecting minorities, helping impoverished Americans and desperate asylum-seekers. They deny vaccines are microchipped. Even worse: they care about climate change.

If that’s “woke,” who’d want to remain asleep?

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Lessons Of January 6


If the January 6 Committee hearings have changed minds, there’s only one direction they can have gone. But people who needed to watch probably didn’t. Taking cues from Trucker -- partisan witch hunt, fake news -- despite the fact that the witnesses were lifelong Republicans, they stayed away.

Maybe some second-thoughting Trump voters tuned in. If so, they’d have learned plenty. For those who haven’t had time to watch them, last week’s is all it should take to convince anyone of Trump’s and his cohorts’ deceptions and outright lies. Every American who values democracy ought to see it. Here’s a few of the salient revelations:

A persistent Foxian theme blames it all on Nancy Pelosi. Didn’t act, didn’t call for the National Guard. It’s a now-obvious lie promulgated even by R leaders whom we saw standing right there in their insurrection hideout, listening as she called various officials asking for that, and more. It’s on video!! Which, yet again, confirms the bottomlessly low regard they have for their voters and for the truth. How many times have the Foxotrumpified repeated it; swallowed it like steak and potatoes?

Also made clear were the many times, many ways Trump was told he’d lost the election fair and square. And that he’d privately acknowledged it, refusing a public admission because it was “too embarrassing.” Repeatedly, he was told his claims of fraud were false; repeatedly, he told his rally-goers he’d won in a “landslide” anyway. For that, there are only two possible explanations: he’s clinically insane or he’s the worst, most dangerous kind of liar. Either way, he should never be allowed within a Pinocchio-nose of the Oval Office again; the fact that he was ever there is an irremovable stain on our country’s electoral processes and enduring proof of right-wing susceptibility to calculated misinformation.

Those who still support him, ignoring the irrefutable evidence, are the political equivalent of flat-earthers; or believing there are litter boxes in schools for kids who identify as cats. It’s hard to accept that, in exceptional America, there are so many and that they were made to submit so easily. But there they are. Ready to vote in less than three weeks. 
Even the right-wing Wall Street Journal came around, writing: “…What the committee has accomplished is to cement the facts surrounding Mr. Trump’s recklessness after Nov. 3 and his dereliction of duty on Jan. 6. The Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s own campaign repeatedly told him that his fraud claims were without basis. Whether it was willful blindness or intentional strategy, he kept repeating them…” Welcome back, WSJ.

The Committee also made clear that the Secret Service knew, days in advance, of plans for violence on January 6. Which means Trump knew, too; yet he ordered metal detectors removed from entry points to his up-whipping of the crowd that day. Makes one wish those texts and emails hadn’t been “accidentally” erased, doesn’t it?

Worse, a top-level aide has opined that Trump wanted elected officials to be killed, so he could invoke the Insurrection Act, declaring martial law, as a path to maintaining power. Hard to believe? Consider the deaths resulting from Trump’s and his aides’ efforts to squelch Covid-19 truth, because it “reflected badly” on the “president.”  

R leaders don’t call out Trump’s lies because they’re an excuse to impede Democratic votes. Justified by whipped-up belief in non-existent voter fraud, election deniers are being put in charge of elections, while thousands of “poll watchers” are training to intimidate selected people at polling places. Candidates such as Kari Lake, running for governor of Arizona, are already saying they’ll only accept results if they win. Senator (!) Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) says President Biden wants to keep the pandemic going so more people will vote by mail.

No one should fail to see where this leads: non-acceptance of any election they lose; discouraging all voters but theirs. Ending democracy by default and discouraged disengagement.

Another example: Trump-successor hopeful, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, just brazenly eased post-hurricane voting rules in three Republican districts but not a single Democratic one. How confident he must be in the right-wing disinformation machine’s ability to deceive voters nationwide. 

Meanwhile, getting things done, “soft on China” President Biden, who’d previously rescued Trump’s imploding economy and created millions of jobs, just crushed China’s semiconductor industry, and “anti-Israel” President Biden achieved a significant diplomatic agreement between Israel and Lebanon that had eluded prior presidents (and one “president”) for decades. Has anyone heard about them?  

If all Americans valued truth-telling, competence, and bettering lives, every Republican running in November would lose. Then, to the sound of pig wings flapping, their party might reengage in the business of our democratic republic. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022


Dan Evans. Mark Hatfield. Tom McCall. Everett Dirksen. Jacob Javits. Dwight Eisenhower. Nelson Rockefeller. Margaret Chase Smith, John Lindsey, Arlen Spector, Howard Baker, Lowell Weicker, Chuck Hager. Ulysses Grant. Abraham Lincoln. My remarkable aunt.  

What’s become of the party that once embraced people of conscience, ideas, believers in democracy, cooperators for progress, acceptors of election results? How can it have devolved to one whose heroes are small-minded, election-denying liars, racists, liars, antisemites, xenophobes, devoid of positive ideas or helpful plans? And liars. 

Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert, Trump, Matt Gaetz, Ron DeSantis, JD Vance, Greg Abbott, Trump, Kevin McCarthy, Marsha Blackburn, Tommy Tuberville, Herschel Walker, Mehmet Oz. Kanye West, of all people. Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz. And Trump. Let’s not forget Trump.

How could we, though? From Trump’s recent rally comes this from featured speaker, know-nothing, former football coach and now Senator, because Alabama is football is Alabama, Tommy Tuberville. Speaking about Democrats: “They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparation because they think the people that do the crime are owed that.”

Thunderous applause followed the undisguised racism and unoriginal lies about Democrats and crime. Another rally-featured, mendacious Trump sycophant, MTG revealed that Democrats have begun murdering Republicans. From leadership? “Didn’t hear it.” Their silence – anyone’s silence – is complicity.

How did the devolution become so universal? Top to bottom, Republicans no longer bother to hide their turn to fear-mongering, hate-fueling, and resentment. Knowing it’s what brings in their votes, they run on it, unashamed. Abandoning people of conscience, people open to ideas, ones hungry for legislative problem-solvers, they cater to followers of Tucker Carlson and Q-anon conspiracists. And, leading the lowly list, Trump, now taken to wearing Q badges, and whose mental health is deteriorating ever more rapidly, as he claims to have declassified the documents he stole, with his very, very large brain

Rather than helpful policies, Republican politicians expect – with good reason – their enraged voters to accept lies and vote accordingly, on their constantly-fed fears and resentments. This they do fully confident that no matter what legislation they propose or how they vote in ways that will hurt those same people, they’ll have their support.

Thus, their unanimous “no” votes on the Inflation Reduction Act and, now, as jobs and money for included projects come to their states and districts, they take credit. Write to President Biden to ask for more. While four Republican legislators, including Marco Rubio, up for reelection, introduce legislation to undo the part of the IRA that lowers prescription costs; benefitting no one but the drug companies who’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars to their campaigns. There’s no better evidence of Republican fealty to contributors, not constituents. 

They count, too, on their ability to wipe from memory how President Biden’s leadership has created millions of jobs; how the American Rescue Plan saved a crashing economy, preserving more millions of jobs. Get them to focus on inflation, blame it on Biden, they decided, not our corporate paymasters making record profits. Or the pandemic’s aftereffects. On the Foxotrumpified, it works.

Worried that belief in Trump’s election lies alone might not carry them to victory in November, they’re flogging another one, nationwide and here, repetitively, backed by dark money super PACs. 87,000 IRS agents, coming “to harass the middle class,” claims a local candidate, sweet and smiley. Despite it having been debunked repeatedly, she’s more than willing to spread it. Knowing it’s far harder to convince people they’re being lied to than to embed a lie in the first place, it’s what they do. 

And, sadly, they rightly count on Democrats to fail even to try to counter with the truth. We’ve seen the ad literally hundreds of times. Rebuttal ads? Zero. Same with the “wide open borders” feverish figment, which ignores the record number of interdictions both of drugs and illegal border-crossers under President Biden. And, for the wall-eyed, the fact that most of the intercepted drugs are discovered at border checkpoints. Ask any Trumpist, though, and they’ll bear credulous witness to the lie.

Or another big one: crime, which as we heard from Coach Tommy, Democrats want. Whereas it’s true murder rates are up (the highest rates are in red states), there’s been a steady decline in violent crime, nationally, since 1990. It’s everywhere, though, candidate ads blare. What do Republicans, including our smiley senate candidate, plan to do about it? More silence. 

Surely we can all agree on this, however: what a relief it’ll be, no matter the outcome, when the election is over. I can no longer stand the ads from either side.

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