Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Supremely Religious


Everything that can be said about the Supreme Court throwing out Roe v. Wade has been said. Nevertheless, some points ought to be reiterated, if for no other reason than to confirm that America is now a theocratic plutocracy. And whereas there are, in theory, things that can be done about it, in practical terms there really aren’t. Theocratic plutocrats have locked it in.

1) Of the six radical-right Justices, five were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. The one who wasn’t likely got there by lying (because why would Anita Hill risk it all by making it up). So did at least two others, who, in their hearings, said Roe was settled. And it was only by way of Mitch McConnell’s staggering hypocrisy that the most recent two were seated.

2) Until now, no constitutional right, adjudicated and reaffirmed over a period of fifty years or any time-span, had been rescinded. If that’s not judicial activism, nothing is. If the Sacred Six hadn’t had a bought-and-paid-for political/religious agenda, they could have refused to hear the case. But their agenda is why they’re there. (Grammar lesson.) 

3) If respectful discussion between people on opposite sides is impossible, both sides might agree that believing the “personhood” of a fertilized egg is indistinguishable from that of a twenty-week fetus is religious-based. Until now, there wasn’t a right to impose one’s religion on others.

4) At least one-third of pregnancies die in utero; some so early that the woman didn’t know she was pregnant; others at any time during pregnancy: miscarriages. And stillbirths. Not to mention babies dying from neonatal birth defects. If there’s an all-powerful God who knows us before we’re born and has a plan for us all, then He’s as guilty as people who provide or undergo abortion. Also, those who consider abortion at any stage murder, ought to be satisfied knowing that all participants will face celestial judgment. Given the preceding, though, they might as likely receive a heavenly high-five as a ticket to Hell.

4+) If, as many believe, the enwombed human lives ended by the hand of God make it to Heaven, so should innocent, humanly-aborted ones; which would be a reason to rejoice. (Question for another time: if fertilized eggs, fetuses, and babies go to heaven, do they become the people God knew before they were born? If so, why must the rest of us spend a comparative milli-micro-nano-second on Earth?)

5) Pro-choice demonstrations are useless. We can be sure at least three of the Supremes would drink liberal tears if they could, and Trumpists of the airwaves and in their homes love watching them.

6) Alito’s justifications for ending Roe were laughable. Foremost, that abortion isn’t mentioned in a document written on parchment by white, landed, mostly slave-owning men at a time when women and Blacks had no electoral voice. Second-most, that they merely returned the issue to “elected representatives” of the respective states. In which the will of the majority has lately been legislated away, aided and encouraged by the Court. Total cynicism. Proof: the same six just overruled a lower court that tossed Louisiana’s redistricting plan for violating the Voting Rights Act by eliminating a predominantly black district. They know the system is rigged: they’re the riggers.

7) The Sanctified Six don’t believe in religious separation. As shown by their decision favoring Bremerton’s most famous coach, who likes to make a show of praying, with his team, on the fifty-yard line, after games. Ignorant, evidently, of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:5-8.

Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch lied, saying he “offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied.” He also wrote, “The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.” “Mutual respect” and “nonreligious views alike.” What audacious disingenuousness. Their decision is the opposite.

In any case, school prayer is back. Let’s see if the halleluiahs extend to a Muslim teacher unrolling a prayer rug at halftime. Or leading their class in salah.

8) Nor do the Sanctimonious Six accept the Fourteenth Amendment. Wrote Justice Thomas in his concurrence, referring to the decisions that affirmed the right to birth control, LGBT rights, and same-sex marriage, the objections to which are, again, religious-based: “[T]he purported right to abortion is not a form of ‘liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause … we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process [decisions].” At this point, let’s take the final step and criminalize non-belief. It’s only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, anyone who thinks the January 6 Committee revelations are changing minds should watch this video.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Democracy, We Hardly Knew Ye

The Backfire Effect. Far more characteristic of self-described conservatives than liberals, it’s the demonstrated tendency of people who hold false notions to cling more tightly to them when presented with evidence proving them wrong. After five public hearings from the January 6 Committee, it’s particularly relevant. Why it’s mostly conservatives to whom facts are anathema is mysterious, but studies confirm it. In the US, those studies are superfluous: it’s undeniable

So much for the hope that the hearings might disabuse Trumpublicans of their belief in obvious falsehoods. That the election was stolen. Voter fraud is rampant. Mike Pence had the Constitutional authority to refuse to certify electoral votes. Because it’s who he is and what he does, it’s unsurprising that Trump still flagellates those expired equines; in fact, he’s backfiring even more loudly now, incriminating himself ever more deeply in the process.

If his party weren’t so irreversibly in his thrall, however, its leaders would have jumped ship after the first hearing and taken their voters with them. But the Backfire Effect is the territory in which they’ve pitched their tents, and there’s no out-house. Committee members have been assigned bodyguards because of death threats.

With the first three hearings still fresh, Texas Republicans approved a party platform that’s Dark-Ages-regressive and exuberantly nasty. First off, they declared Trump the rightful president from whom the election was stolen by fraud. Warmed up, they designated homosexuality a “lifestyle choice.” Sex education of any sort may not be taught at any level in public schools, other than – not kidding -- requiring students to listen to fetal ultrasounds. Beyond that, no sex, please. We’re Texan.

They were just getting started. Their legislature should be stripped of the power to regulate firearms in any way. The federal income tax should be abolished, along with the Federal Reserve. So, too, the Civil Rights Act. They "oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity," and would make gender-affirming care for trans children a crime. They support full parental control over educating their children; code for not teaching about slavery or racism or any other snowflake-melting facts. Christian prayer would be required. Unregulated home-schooling, privatization of Social Security, no future mask mandates or climate legislation. “Inappropriate or harmful” (undefined) reading materials removed from schools.

The document is testimony to how deeply Trumpists fear truth, science, and the prospect of educated, thoughtful citizens. It's not just Texas. Forced to resign as governor, now running for senate, Missouri’s Eric Greitens posted a campaign video of himself and paramilitary goons storming a home where non-MAGA people live, firing flash-bangs and assault weapons. In a New Mexico county, officials refused to certify an election, based on “gut feelings,” not “facts.” Notwithstanding a post-Uvalde Fox (!) poll showing overwhelming public support for tough gun regulation, including red flag laws, age limits, even banning semi-automatic rifles, elected Republicans are intransigently rejecting public opinion. Minority rules. America is a Venn diagram with non-intersecting circles.

Even before Trumpism, the US had become irreparably fractured. Breakup now seems inevitable. Serious thinkers are addressing it, seriously. That Texas platform demands a voter initiative on seceding from the Union. That, we mustn’t allow. We must require. Toss in another state or two to house all Trumpublicans, and facilitate moving there. Free passage on Amtrak, the last time it’d be available to them. Rational people, like those in Austin and elsewhere, would be welcome in places where reality also is. 

The hearings. Texas. The Trumpublican Party has fled the real world and burned the bridges. Has no interest in cooperation; shouts down and votes out those who do. Because we’re no longer a country in which majority opinions can find their way to legislation, our two-party system has become hopelessly dysfunctional. Exceptional America has become exceptionally unable to address complex problems. Good people, the majority, want to, but can’t. No democratic republic can long survive in today’s political environment.

For several decades, in fact, it hasn’t. Round-the-clock lying and hate-mongering from right-wing media have made it so. And from Trump, who belongs in Texas. After what he did to Lady Ruby and her daughter, a microcosm of what he’s done to America, he deserves much worse. 

The unreachable need a place of their own, where they can raise legally brainwashed, other-hating, scientifically illiterate, parched, pregnant, closeted, but well-armed children, without electricity. Where they can pray away climate change and diseases created by unregulated pollution, genuflect to Tucker, and elect Trumpic tyrants; while the libs to whom they stuck it, along with the few remaining honorable Republicans, like Rusty Bowers, will be up here being nice and raising empathetic kids capable of solving problems. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Hearing The Truth. Also, Guns.


“The whole thing is insulting. In fact, it’s deranged,” whined whiney Tucker Carlson, during Fox’s counterprogramming to the truth presented by the January 6 committee. “… They are lying, and we’re not going to help them do it.” Not knowing what was being presented, but saying it anyway, tells us everything about him. Fox “news” so feared its viewers might break away for a few minutes and learn something that it carried no commercials. Which tells us everything about them, and how they’ve viewed viewers from the moment of fertilization of Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda egg.

There was no election fraud. Trump was fully aware. The hearings leave no doubt. So, is he a monumental liar or delusional? Both, probably. He knows he’s lying and is so pathologically unwell that he believes he, who claims to know everything about everything but knows nothing about anything, deserved to win. Lying, suborning violence, rejecting democracy, he justified anything required to retain the office to which he felt entitled. 

Having nothing with which to refute the committee’s laid-out facts, Foxing heads focused on denying January 6 was an insurrection. Or an attempted coup, or even a riot. Or on Ashli Babbitt, “martyred,” they’d say, when a good guy with a gun, sworn to safeguard members of Congress, facing a rampaging mob chanting for murder, shot her as she breached the final barrier protecting the members.

Does terminology even matter, though? By another name, let’s call it a rose. In fact, January 6 isn’t really the point, any more than whipped-up cream is the point of a banana split. It’s everything that preceded and followed the up-rosing. Launched long before the election and aided by his coterie of unprincipled enablers, it’s Trump’s willful deceit. It’s his intent to malign and silence the majority of voters who ejected him, soundly and legally. It’s his Putinesque plan to dismantle democracy in order to acquire permanent power, about which the hearings are removing all doubt.

Yet millions believed his transparent, discredited lies and still do. MAGA? Hardly. Playing his followers for gullible patsies, Trump’s vision of “greatness” is only his own. Inexplicably, his big-lie-pushers still win elections. Their voters weren’t watching, evidently. The need to believe is stronger than truth. 

Keeping belief alive is essential for Trump’s post-presidency grift. The “Election Defense Fund,” in the name of which he suckered hundreds of millions of dollars from small-dollar victims, never existed. The haul went to himself and to his protectors’ “charities,” rather than “election defense,” whatever that is. A scam more tasteless than Trump steaks, more flightless than Trump Air, more content-free than Trump University. Who’d have guessed? 

Still seditiously attacking a decisive, clean election, still bawling about a “landslide” win, Trump has undertaken his only well-conceived ruse in a lifetime of fraud: teasing another presidential run (yes, please!) as a way to escape indictment. Counting on Merrick Garland’s ethical standards, he’s betting the Attorney General won’t charge a clearly criminal, but front-running presidential candidate, lest it appear “political.” He might be right.

Or not. A Republican front-runner for governor of Michigan was just arrested by the FBI for his participation in the rose. Maybe enough of the hearing’s twenty million viewers, not counting who-knows-how-many online, have become convinced of Trump’s criminality to demand indictment. What would be worse for democracy: the inevitable Trump-encouraged violence, or letting a corrupt “president” off the hook? The answer is obvious.

Meanwhile, following the Texas massacre and decades of Republican obstruction, a bipartisan group of senators has agreed upon tweaks to gun laws. Quoting arch political blogger Charles P. Pierce, “The bill Is a good start like tying your shoes is a good way to start a marathon.”

They couldn’t agree, of course, to re-ban assault-style rifles, much less, God forbid, raise the purchase age, despite it already being twenty-one to obtain handguns. The bill increases background checks. For teenagers. It “encourages” states to create red-flag laws. Increases “mental health” funding; how the spending will reduce mass murders isn’t specified.

Will it pass? We’ll see. Many red-state governors refused Obamacare’s Medicaid funds, through which the money is likely to flow. If it passes, will they accept the dollars this time? Doesn’t matter. Per Senator Cornyn (R-TX), “We protected law-abiding Texans’ right to bear arms.” And that’s what counts.

A helpful letter-writer recently reminded Herald readers that AR-15s aren’t “assault rifles.” Okay. Let’s call them pool noodles. Powerful enough to pulverize children beyond recognition. Everyone, especially legislators, should be made to see full-color pictures of those victims. I’ve operated on people whose livers were literally exploded by less-powerful weapons; gruesome as that is, by comparison it’s nothing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Those Who Don't Learn...


Ten years old during the “Army-McCarthy” hearings, I think I remember watching them live. Could have been reruns. Similar uncertainty applies to my recollection of watching Army counsel Joseph Welch, later to play the judge in the movie “Anatomy of a Murder,” demand of red-baiting, lying, fear-mongering (sound familiar?) Senator Joe McCarthy (R-WI), “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

I hope the memory I have of McCarthy looking abashed is accurate. Maybe even Roy Cohn. When Mr. Welch finished, the audience cheered; thus beginning the end of the horror. Also dispositive was President Eisenhower calling out a member of his own party; in addition, several senators of that party joined the vote to censure him. Those were the days, now almost impossible to believe: two conscientious parties, recognizing the role of Congress and the importance of democracy, disinclined to lie. If memory serves. It might have been another country.

Memories of the Watergate hearings are firmer. Again, justice was served by the conscience of conservatives, including some working within the Nixon White House. Today's ethical reversal of that party is staggering.

This column had to be delivered to The Herald before the opening of the public January 6 Committee hearings, so comments thereon must wait. But if lying, grandstanding, allegedly alcoholic Joe McCarthy had the capacity for a modicum of shame, we know the same can’t be said for Trump and his cadre of collaborators in their coordinated cabal conspiring to cremate the Constitution. Including the current McCarthy. On the contrary: since televised hearings were announced, Trump and Republican leaders have been planning a counterattack based on smoke, mirrors, and Fox “news.” Given how easily they created acceptance of Trump’s Big Election Lie, they may well succeed, again, in suffocating truth in its crib. An attempt to distract from inflation, they’ll call it. A baseless, Soros-paid, partisan hit-job, they’ll say. Just like the unfair prosecution of Jeffrey Dahmer, bankrolled by big meat. 

The difference between then and now couldn’t be more dramatic. Lacking both shame and spine, elected Trumpublicans will be unmoved by the public hearings. How could it be otherwise? Eighteen months later, after countless investigations found nothing, the vast majority of Trumpists still believe the election was stolen, though not an iota of fraud has been demonstrated, other than the occasional Republican voting in a dead relative’s name. In that subset of humanity, minds won’t change, assuming they watch at all because why would they?

If Jesus Himself, whose teachings they’ve cast aside to support Trump, were to return to confirm the absence of fraud; and if Trump, whose professed faith is his second biggest lie, were to call Him a liar, is there any doubt whom they’d believe?

Impenetrable Trumpists are lost to reality, but perhaps enough minds remain open among his less hermetic voters that, when the hearings are live, they’ll tune in, turn on, and drop out of the cult. Become convinced that Trump must never hold office again; that Republican politicians who still push Trump’s big lie must be removed; and that Trumpist political newcomers, including snake-oil selling carpetbaggers and other unqualified liars, must never hold positions of power. Failure to do so harbings democracy’s end-times, which is neither speculation nor hyperbole. It’s as obvious as a brainwashed believer beating a capitol cop with a flagpole.

Unlikely as it is, and assuming enough not-fully-Foxified stumble upon other channels (Fox “news” won’t be broadcasting them), perhaps the hearings can open a few million pairs of eyes. (No offense to the blind or one-eyed.) Of course, enough is already known to convict the whole bunch of numerous crimes and literal sedition, from Trump’s top to Bannon’s bottom. Which portends that, absent previously unknown major revelations, only futility, not brains, will be exercised.

The penchant of so many millions of Americans for authoritarianism must be an evolutionary hangover from when danger was everywhere and compliantly following a leader had survival benefits. Now, though, like the vermiform appendix, its remnant produces nothing but sickness.

These hearings are necessary only because of those who fell under the spell of an amoral, lifetime liar and scammer. Defendant in thousands of business-related lawsuits. Forcer of non-disclosure agreements to bury his profligacy. Wielder of hate as a means to power. Also neither speculation nor hyperbole.

Trump’s pathological need for adulation is so great that he was willing to destroy democracy to maintain it. Aided by similarly amoral, anti-democracy members of his party and right-wing media, he almost accomplished it. He still could. It shouldn’t require hearings to convince people, but it sure would help.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Guns, Guns, Guns


Admittedly micturition into the mistral, it’s impossible not to write about America becoming the only country in the world where guns are the leading cause of childhood mortality, and being the world leader in mass murders.

Because we have more guns in circulation than there are people, the barn is out of the bag. Nevertheless, whatever legislation might become law, no one is “coming for your guns.” Kamala Harris won’t march up your driveway and wrestle away your AR. If assault-style weapons were outlawed again (unlikely), they’ll still be out there. On the other hand, the teenage Texas terrorist had just purchased his; if the legal age were twenty-one, he couldn’t have. Legally, anyway. And there were many “red flags” about his prior behavior.

Here’s a partial list, in order of decreasing likelihood of passage, of legislation that might reduce the number of children giving their lives to protect your Second Amendment freedoms:

Red flag laws; raising the age to purchase military-style weapons; universal background checks; banning gravity; licensing of owners; mandatory training; limiting magazine size; banning assault-style weapons; amending the Second Amendment to eliminate ambiguity regarding “well-regulated militia”; beating swords into plowshares.

But nothing will happen until the Senate is rid of its hypocritical, gaslighting, scourge of NRA-owned “conservatives.” Which will occur only if the generation that includes those nineteen now-dead Texas children outlives the many ways errant Republican lawmakers are trying to kill them. And survives long enough to elect reasonable people.

“Reasonable” means responsive to the 90% of Americans, including many of their own, who favor some form of gun-control legislation. “Reasonable” means senators who value their constituents more than NRA money

So, while we wait, let’s recount the worn-out excuses and ridiculous arguments produced by wholly-owned Republican enablers. Topping the list is the only cogent argument we’ve heard for keeping and bearing an AR-15. Offered by Senator Doctor Cassidy of Louisiana, it’s to kill feral pigs. Makes splendid sense. 

Not far behind is the faux (pronounced “Fox”) outrage over President Biden “politicizing” tragedy when he spoke about the Texas murders. This, from people for whom there’s never a right time, who’ve politicized gun rights above all, and who’ve evidently forgotten, because of a recent four-year exception, that a president’s job description includes moral leader.

Junior Trump blames massacres on “crazy teachers” indoctrinating our kids. Evidently, though, like most gunophilic Republicans, he’s fine with arming them. Senator Ron Johnson blames Critical Race Theory, wokeness, and “liberal indoctrination,” which “have been going on under the radar for quite some time.”

A favorite Republican “guns aren’t the problem” dodge is mental health. Right. The first bill Trump signed revoked Obama-era regulations making it harder for mentally ill people to obtain firearms. And, having signed several bills that loosened gun laws, Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, which ranks last among states in access to mental health care, cut $211 million of funding for it. It’s a diversional talking point, not an action item.
Schools ARE acting, but they need help. In blue Washington, the legislature provides mental health funds. Will red states follow suit? 

Insurrectionist Rep. Mo Brooks rejects gun safety laws because “we always have the right to take back our government should it become dictatorial.” Sure. Thousands of times over, our government outguns us. Should it become dictatorial, it’d unhesitatingly turn that firepower on us. Under Trump, it almost was and almost did.

We don’t need new laws, they say. We need to enforce the ones already in place. Because of Republican senatorial obstruction, the ATF hasn’t had a confirmed director for sixteen years.

After the Texas slaughter, Senate Republicans (the free speech party) blocked debate on a bill addressing domestic terrorism. Why? Do they consider domestic terrorists their base? After the bloodbath, Michigan’s legislative Republicans (the free speech party) blocked Democrats from speaking about it. So one of them spoke from home. Please listen to her

Speaking at the NRA convention in Houston, three days after the Constitutionally-protected carnage, Trump called gun control legislation “grotesque” and “cynical.” Weapons, per usual and unironically, were banned from the venue. And here’s more depressing Americana (warning: includes Ted Cruz offloading bovine-excrement).

Even more: Republicans have consistently blocked funding for research on gun violence. Perhaps it’s because of studies like the one finding no benefit from arming school employees.

Celebrated by both sides for crushing Trump’s pick for Georgia governor (Trump is claiming fraud, of course), Brian Kemp checks every gun-nut, hardcore, right-wing box

Will elected Republicans ever accept democracy and listen to the ninety percent? When and if I regain breath, I won’t be holding it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Saint Ronald And The Death Of Democracy



Other than Trump’s election lies, America’s most damaging, anti-democracy presidential utterance exited the face of Ronald Reagan on the occasion of his inauguration: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government IS the problem,” said he, thus igniting the incremental incineration of democracy that’s inflamed our country ever since.

But WE are the government. We choose it, we empower it, we -- when we’re dutiful -- direct and limit it. If government is the problem, therefore, the problem is us

JFK spoke, intimately, inspiringly, at my very small college only a month before his assassination. But one might question his inaugural admonition, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Because “doing for us” is what democracies are about. What we can do for our country is to put competent people in charge who are committed to good governance; rather than Trumpiloids, committed to big donors, big lies, and power for its own sake.

LBJ wanted his “Great Society” to promote “the desire for beauty and the hunger for community … a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods… [T]he Great Society is … a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the products of our labor.” That’s the “do for you.” Later, in a graduation speech, he defined “do for your country.” “Will you join in the battle,” he asked, “to give every citizen the full equality which God enjoins and the law requires, whatever his belief, or race, or the color of his skin? Will you join in the battle to give every citizen an escape from the crushing weight of poverty?” How unlike Reagan!

Therein is the immutable difference between Democrats and today’s Republicans. Democratic presidents and Congresses have aimed to help all Americans, while Republicans, echoing Saint Ronnie, have worked to keep it from happening. Convincing the convincible that a government that’s “here to help” is their enemy, they claim social programs create laziness, that regulations choke capitalism. Why? Because they cost money, which means higher taxes and safety constraints on their donors. So, instead of Democrats’ vision of government serving its people, we get Reaganite Republicans serving only the wealthy. And themselves.

We get Trump, whose “renegotiating” NAFTA was a major factor in the current baby formula shortage. We get 192 Republicans voting against a solution because they’d rather see babies go hungry than help President Biden fix it.  

We get every Republican voting against a bill cracking down on gasoline price-gouging, in order to hurt Biden (and us) and help their fossil-fuelers enrich themselves. Fifteen years ago, when a barrel of crude cost seventy-five dollars higher than it is now, gas cost about $1.50 less per gallon. But gouge away, say Republicans. You keep the donations coming and we’ll keep blaming Biden. (Fact: prices are higher in many other countries. President Biden’s fault, too?)

We get this year’s CPAC meeting in Hungary, home of Trumpists’ second-favorite tyrant, whose list of speakers featured hate-fomenting liar Tucker Carlson and a Hungarian journalist who’d called Jews “stinking excrement,” Gypsies “animals,” and Blacks even worse. And, completing the trifecta, Trump. It’s now who they are, and, through indifference by some voters and intent by others, that’s what we get.

We get a Republican party determined to reject healthcare for all Americans, spiking Democratic proposals while offering none. A party committed to creating distrust in our electoral system by perpetuating transparent lies about fraud, to justify disenfranchising voters most likely to vote against them; wanting to hand presidential choices to their state legislatures rather than voters. A party to blame for the anti-science beliefs, conspiracy theories, and distrust, as well as incompetent and inattentive management, that led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths from Covid-19.

We get Mitch McConnell’s 6-3 “pro-life” SCOTUS, ready to ban abortion, simultaneously ruling that innocence isn’t enough to keep a state from executing someone. 

We’ve gotten a party that chooses an evolution-denying, “Trump never said the election was stolen,” domestic-abusing, self-described mentally ill, unintelligible football player and a clueless coach as Senators, as long as they’ll beat qualified, honorable Democrats; and which is itching to remake America as a puritanical Christian theocracy. 

Whether or not it’d have prevented any of America’s almost daily, heartbreaking massacres, we get fifty, backboneless senators afraid of even the most minimal gun control legislation. Whose stars are still scheduled to speak at a NRA convention in Houston. But we do get thoughts and prayers.  

And, because enough people believed Reagan, we got January 6, too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Replacement Reality



“False flag.” It’s among the preferred excuses offered by the don’t-blame-us right, to defend the indefensible. After the murders of Black Americans in Buffalo, by an admitted white supremacist, racist antisemite bedeviled by bogus “replacement theory,” it took only a day for it to be applied, Alex Jones/Sandy Hook style. Jones, himself, dredged it up again. Republican candidates and legislators, too. 

Guns are now so deeply embedded in America, it won’t ever change. Shortly before the massacre, two Trump-appointed judges struck down a California law banning sales of military-style weapons to people under twenty-one, like the Buffalo assassin, calling it a violation of the Second Amendment. Maybe it was. But the judge who wrote the opinion offered this bit of Trumpismic illogic: "America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army," Judge Ryan Nelson wrote. "Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms."

Right. Because youngsters joined the Revolution keeping and bearing muskets, we must allow modern killing machines to be purchased by everyone of any age. McConnell-selected, Trump-appointed. Nothing more needs saying.

“Consider your man card reissued,” creeps an ad for the Bushmaster war-weapon clone the murderer used. “If it’s good enough for the professional, it’s good enough for you.” That's a testicle-tanning-Tucker two-fer. BTW: studies show shooting accuracy of professionals drops by 40%, in pressure situations. And amateurs? 

In Ohio, you can now carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training. You no longer have to tell a cop who stops you that you’re armed. Lying about it is now a misdemeanor instead of a felony. So guns will only become more available and less regulated. By now, blaming gun laws for Buffalo is like blaming water for drownings.

Innocent lambs, Foxian talkers blame mental health issues. It’s no excuse: knowing mentally ill and impressionable people are out there, they pound their lies anyway. Any sentient human – which, setting the bar low enough, includes Carlson and fellow promoters of “replacement theory” – recognizes the deadly combination and its inevitable tragedies: guns for the having, plus disturbed people vulnerable to fear- and hate-mongering. Violence in response is entirely predictable. It's happened many times before.

If a tinder-dry forest catches fire, you don’t exculpate the person who walked through it with a flame-thrower. Because America will do nothing about the tinder, the only hope for change is confronting the people who, knowing the forest is a firebox, keep firing flames into it. If it’s impossible to rid ourselves of guns and mentally fragile people, it’s possible, theoretically, to do something about the harm people like Tucker are doing.

Our constitution gives them the right to spread their lies, though it’s homicidally close to shouting “fire” in a packed theater. We’re blameless, they insist. But they know who’s out there, on whom their words are falling, and they keep doing it. Lacking morality, they won't stop. Pressuring their sponsors might be the only option. That, and less “bothsiderism” from “liberal” media.

So let’s consider the “replacement theory” they’re pushing, convincing armed and fragile people and everyone else there’s a plot to “replace” them with people unlike them. (We can hope.) Deniers of most reality, Trumpicists have correctly noticed that American demographics are changing. Behind which, they see a dastardly liberal plot. Which is ironic, as it’s their party’s policies that ensure the birth, among others, of more people of the sort they abhor. Who, if they are voting, are Americans, enjoying the same freedom as they. But Trumpophiles reject all Americans’ freedoms except their own.

Then what about immigrants? If it’s true, which it isn’t, that America-hating liberal groomers of innocent children are opening floodgates to create more voters, it’d be the flipside of Republican lawmakers doing everything they can to ensure only their voters vote. Lacking the most minimal empathy, ignoring the fact that, except for Native Americans, we’re all immigrants, they can’t imagine the possibility that it’s BECAUSE we're descendants of immigrants, that liberals welcome them. And because immigrants aspire to the “American dream” far more than those who didn’t have to fight to get here.

As Republicans insist on mis-educating their own, America counts on immigrants, not just to become voters, but to keep the dream alive. Quoting NYT's Brett Stephens, "What the far right calls "replacement" is better described as renewal." (tinyurl.com/nytbrett)

Replacement theory is just another time-tested, dishonest scare tactic to secure votes from people about whom they’ve never cared, for whom they haven’t had helpful policies for decades.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Arthur Of The Missing Stomach



There’s lots to say about Mike Esper’s book, with its too-tardy revelations of Trump’s lunatic, despotic inclinations. But it’s too depressing, because, rather than reflecting on our narrow escape, Trumpists don't care. Their ideal of a “great” America is Saudi Arabia. So, for a needed mental health break, here’s a surgical diversion:

High on my list of favorite operations was surgery on the stomach: the anatomy is neat, the re-plumbing alternatives clever, technical challenges rewarding, and, because it’s well-supplied with blood, complication-free healing is pretty predictable. Also, several procedures were conceived by and named for history’s pioneer surgeons, and it’s nice to feel the connection, heir to the discoveries and invention of the greats. Herewith, the story of a recipient of one of my favorite operations.

Already slight and small, Arthur A. had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, located where removing his entire stomach was necessary. He was a "whatever-you-say-Doc" sort of guy, but his wife was literally beside herself. Vibrating in such a way as to appear to be two people must be how the "beside herself" expression came to be. That's what she was doing. "How can he live like that? He'll starve to death!! Look at him!! How can I feed him? What can he eat? I can't cook like that. What'll I do? What'll I do?"

It's entirely reasonable, of course, to be shocked by the idea of an absent stomach, but she was letting my words bounce off without sticking, like tennis balls off a wall. I was telling her that most people, especially older folks, get along surprisingly well without a stomach, that he'd probably be able to eat whatever he wanted, but in smaller portions. There’d be no special diet. No absolute restrictions. He should try whatever sounds good to him, and we can see what works, modify if necessary.

Boing, boing, my words ricocheted, un-received. But there wasn't much choice; it’s what he needed, and as our meetings continued, I managed -- calling upon my fabulous communication skills -- to lower the vibratory amplitude. Relative calm prevailed.

The operation went fine, despite finding that the tumor had grown directly into the left lobe of Mr. A’s liver, requiring that I take a pie-shaped slice of it along with the whole stomach. The reconstruction techniques are part of why surgeons like being surgeons. The way I did it for him and most other candidates involves fashioning a sort-of neo-reservoir for food at the bottom of the esophagus, along with some fancy intestinal rearrangement to restore continuity. It’s somewhat of a big deal, but it works. Lacking a particular hormone it makes, people missing their entire stomach need monthly B-12 shots, but that’s the only certain nutritional requirement.

Arthur made an uneventful recovery and was ready for discharge in a quick few days. Stopping by his room for a final goodbye, I found his wife -- who'd relaxed a bit as she watched him sailing smooth -- wide-eyed and pale-faced, vibrating anew as a dietician instructed her on a "gastrectomy diet." For which, because of my prior efforts with the wife, trying to preserve the peace, I specifically hadn’t asked.

Delicately as possible, I invited the dietician to join me in the hall, where I explained that this was exactly what the woman did NOT need; that I'd take care of the dietary management myself. Had anyone requested the visit? No, she said. She'd just noted that the man had had a gastrectomy, and had taken it upon herself -- per some protocol or other -- to make the connection. I explained the peculiarity of the situation while she nodded nicely; then returned to the room, taking up where she'd left off, as Mrs. A. levitated to the ceiling.

This sat unwell with me, and there were subsequent, uh, communications. It's my parenthetical opinion that there are many extremely useful services provided by many excellent professionals attached to a hospital. And they should be used. When invited. Carved-in-stone protocols can, on occasion, be counterproductive. But I digress.

After the dietician left, I managed to restore trust that he’d be okay at home, and off they went. At subsequent post-op visits, Mr. A. continued his uncomplicated recovery. His wife, too. And how did he do with his extensive cancer and complex surgery? Two answers: first, about ten years later he dropped by to have his gallbladder removed. Second: around a year after the gastrectomy, my wife and I were eating at a local steak joint. Couple of tables away was Arthur, doing justice to a New York strip and a baked potato, as his wife, calm and cool, did likewise.

They had dessert, too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

No Surprise



So Justice Alito’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade has been leaked. Inevitable since Mitch McConnell embarked on court-packing during President Obama’s terms and, therefore, no surprise, leaking it was unhelpful. Like the dog who caught the car, anxious to change the subject, Republicans are calling the leak the “real insurrection.” 

But it won’t impact the decision, assuming Alito’s philippic is the final product. And everyone except Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski saw it coming when McConnell blocked Merrick Garland for the flimsiest of reasons, then did an extraordinarily hypocritical (even for him) one-eighty for Amy Coney Barrett.

I happen to agree that, ideally, the right to abortion should be legislated rather than adjudicated. Which is what Mr. Justice implied, knowing his court had previously made sure it would never happen, butter not melting in his mouth. Nevertheless, butter dripped from his lips like MAGmA when he insisted the decision is no threat to other SCOTUS rulings; and when he specifically eschewed caring about its impact. What happens to babies force-born into poverty, when Republicans, as always, refuse to pay for help? And women who’ll die? Irrelevant. Abortion is a “profound moral issue,” Alito wrote; but those, evidently, aren’t.

His rationale – that abortion isn’t mentioned in the Constitution -- can be applied to virtually every non-enumerated right the court has previously sanctified: access to birth control, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, integrated schools, fair housing, even the very right to privacy. The system is now so perfectly rigged in favor of disfavored, minority preferences that there’s practically no way Congress will enact legislation to guarantee any of those things, despite the fact that a majority of Americans support them all, not just the right to abortion (with widely-accepted restrictions).

Blatantly unfair gerrymandering; voter suppression laws precisely aimed at Democratic constituencies; wildly disparate numbers of polling and registration places between white and minority districts, “legal” since Roberts’ gutting of the Voting Rights Act; the “Citizens United” decision allowing unlimited political bribery by the nameless super-rich; attacking public education; Trump’s Big Lie. All serving their ultimate goal: turning the United States into a theocratic oligarchy, run by powerful corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals, based on a “Christianity” that’s as far from Christ-like as a drug cartel. Tweet it!

Americans consider voting the ultimate defense of democracy, placing our country’s direction in the hands of its citizens. While still theoretically true, the ability to maintain small-“el” liberal democracy via the ballot box is under relentless attack from the right. Kept distracted and disinformed by their anti-democratic, pro-authoritarian media, the people most adversely affected by the agenda of today’s Republican Party, which includes the majority of Trump voters, are being convinced to vote against their own interests. In order to save their children from being “groomed.” Or eaten. Or taught empathy. Or American history. To save themselves from the One World Order, the Great Replacement. Or George Soros.

It’s self-perpetuating. As people like Margorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and depressingly more are welcomed to center stage of their party (let’s not forget Trump), good people are leaving. Any ethical Republican, a term rapidly becoming oxymoronic, will be primaried by Trumpists and endorsed (assuming he can remember their names) by Trump. The more deplorable, the better. Name nearly forgotten by Trump, J.D. Vance accused President Biden of deliberately letting fentanyl through the southern border in order to kill MAGA voters. And won the Ohio Republican senate primary. (MAGA voters are addicts? Explains a lot.) In fact, interdiction of drugs by the Biden administration has increased tenfold over Trump’s time. But lies and liars win, yet again.

If it hadn’t yet been obvious to everyone, now there’s no denying America is a country whose policies are decided by a minority of its citizens. Proving the point, four of SCOTUS’ hard-right, Roe-ending ideologues were appointed by “presidents” who lost the popular vote. Able to block nearly all legislation, including the rights-restoring Women’s Health Protection Act, Republican Senators represent forty million fewer voters than the Democrats. That’s not democracy. But it’s America now.

Perhaps the elimination of abortion rights will awaken voters to the precarious standing of all protected personal decisions. Maybe it’ll be the long-overdue catalyst for enlightening the “They’re all the same,” “I’m voting third-party,” “Why bother to vote,” “It doesn’t affect me” people who’ve repeatedly ceded elections to those who’ve facilitated appointing a court bent on returning us to the eighteenth century and a former “president” eager to preside over a kleptocratic plutocracy. Preventing all that will take an unprecedented turnout of caring voters, now, this year, against massive efforts from the other side to keep it from happening. In Trump’s America, it seems increasingly unlikely.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

So, So Wrong


A column written, but not published, the day after Trump’s “election:” 

How wrong I’ve been. Wrong about climate change, wrong about the value to our country of immigrants, wrong about the idea that separation protects religious freedom. I’ve been wrong in thinking Americans would reject a lifelong liar and cheat who knows nothing about our Constitution, or foreign affairs, or our system of governance.

I was right, too. The power of the dishonest right-wing propaganda machine can’t be overstated. The ease with which they made it possible to reject facts, ignore lies, consider expertise dangerous, is something I’ve pointed out, repeatedly; my wrongness was in thinking there were enough people able to recognize and reject it.

It’s hard to accept that I live in a country where a minority, who don’t value the things I value, rules: diversity, lending a hand, education, science, protecting the environment, believing our greatness isn’t military power, but the power of our ideas, the potential for success in people of all races, religions, backgrounds. But it’s true, and I’ll have to deal with it.

People who, because of my liberalism, consider me a traitor, have won the day. We’ll see how it plays out, a vengeful narcissist at the head of our government, one who’s promised to use the powers of our government against those who challenge him. (Maybe I should disappear my columns.) He has Congress in his pocket, too; time will tell how he’ll deal with those in his party that didn’t support him. He’s made it clear he’ll go after “enemies.” His past business behavior indicates he will.

I don’t think I’ve been wrong about the horrors that will follow the election of such a man, but since I’ve been wrong about everything else, maybe that, too. There have been times when I’ve thought that if he won it’d finally make clear how wrong he is about what makes our economy strong, and about what makes America strong in the eyes of the world; that Trumpism will disappear. If not, we’re in deep trouble as a nation and as a world. We’ll know soon enough.

Unlike Republican electeds during the Obama years, I accept the results: he won the Electoral College, and that’s how it works. I hope against all likelihood that Donald Trump will either make the effort to become educated on political matters or that he’ll defer, as he’s suggested, to other people while he savors the trappings but not the responsibilities of office; that he’ll abandon deliberate division as the path to maintaining power.

Over the years I’ve told countless patients facing grave illness, let’s work for the best while preparing for the worst. Given the stakes, and unlike Mitch McConnell and his ilk, who wished it for President Obama, I can’t hope for Trump to fail. I have grandchildren. I want them to grow into a world that’s welcoming, safe, unpolluted, with a climate that’s compatible with human life. I want my granddaughter to be valued for who she is, not devalued because of her sex. If either of them turns out to be gay, I want them to live without fear, to have the same rights as the rest of us. I want their schools to teach truth and, because democracy depends on it, empathy.

I don’t want to see our country consumed by hate and fear of people of differing backgrounds. I want science to be valued, religious differences to be respected. So I must hope that the seriousness of his office will find a way into Donald Trump’s selfish heart, and that he or the people to whom he turns over the job won’t turn our country back to the worst of times.

Hope is all I have now. Because, as it turns out, I’ve been entirely wrong about who we are. 

Update, 4/29/22: I under-predicted the bad. America is now riven by divisions far greater than before he took office, the flames of hate fanned and vote suppression brought to levels at which democracies don’t survive. He listened to crooks, liars, xenophobes, racists, and incompetents.

Trumpists in Congress block progress, just to “stick it to libs;” pushing hate, not help. And they’ll be reelected. Marjorie Taylor Greene. What more proof is there?

Caught lying outright, future Speaker Kevin McCarthy still denies he said what he said, on tape! For Republicans, denying reality isn’t disqualifying: it’s required. The Big Lie: gospel. In Ohio, Trump just called for one-day, in-person voting, which would disenfranchise  millions.

Their obvious, direct threat to democracy ought to see every Trumpublican voted out, yet the opposite appears likely. Other than spite, what do Trumpists think they're getting out if it?

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Judgement Daze

And, lo, great happiness came upon the land. And the people uncovered their faces and lifted them joyfully to the heavens (closer to which they had risen by about thirty-thousand feet). Hosannas were shouted, and citizens wept as one in gratitude. Sang they their praises to the blessed source, whence came the glad tidings, whose Name remained on their lips like manna, thenceforth and forevermore. All glory they pledged to That who gaveth even as it tooketh away. For They are and shall be known as … the Federalist Society.

It's what happens when a “president” who neither understands nor cares about the law is lazy enough simply to rubber-stamp recommendations from a far-right group of lawyers and judges, a group whose criteria for judgeships are two: longevity and predictable predilection to legislate from the bench in their favor. Packaged and delivered by Fed S., the judge who contravened mask mandates was approved by McConnell’s Senate despite a “not qualified” assessment by the American Bar Association, despite being only eight years out of law school, and despite having never tried a single case in a court of law. Legal scholars have called her opinion a “train wreck,” a “concocted justification.” 

Denying entry to an airplane if unmasked, she “reasoned,” is equivalent to unlawful detention and quarantine. Whatever your opinions about masking in a flying sardine can, that level of legal twisticuffs in order to grant the goals of those who bought her judgeship ought to disturb everyone. But, as the anti-democratic end has come to justify any non-democratic means, it won’t.

Thanks to Mitchotrumpic court-packing with hardcore right-wing ideologues and religious zealots, there’s worse to come. Compared to everything else a majority of Americans support but which Trumpublicans and their courts don’t, masks are nothing: availability of abortion and birth control; equal voting access including mail-in ballots; LGBT rights; government action on climate change; renewable energy; public schools. And the holy grail: separation of church and state. The Christian right considers itself an oppressed majority, and now they have the courts.

A local football coach’s case is teed up to bring it all down. Why else would this Federalist Society’s handpicked SCOTUS have agreed to hear his case against the Bremerton School District, after previous, less radicalized ones refused? They have a plan.

Told he couldn’t hold prayer meetings with his players on the fifty-yard line of the high school field, after games, the coach did so anyway. Students from the stands and a rightwing legislator ran onto the field to join in after he defied the order. He and all of Christendom were the victims, they cried; not kids who’d have chosen not to participate, had they not felt pressure to do so. Predictably, as night follows dei, hate mail and threats from the saintly aggrieved followed the ruling. 

It's the same argument, whether prayer in school or creches on courthouse lawns or Christmas O’Reilly’s fake war: Christians are the victims, not people of other or no faiths. Performing their piety everywhere but in government spaces isn’t enough. Despite Jesus’ admonition. (Matthew 6:5-8)

In fact, BSD invited coach to hold his meetings off-campus. Doesn’t matter: it’s persecution. Nor could the inevitable ruling be coming at a better time. Since the “election” of Trump, there’s been a steady rise in attacks on Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and their places of worship. And cemeteries. Will it become nationwide mobs? With “presidential” encouragement?

Can any observer of current trends deny Trump’s America is capable of mob rule, or of a government that leads the way while courts look the other? If Trumpublicans, already producing intimidating, death-threatening hordes at school board meetings and polling places, control all branches of government? Their states are busily banning books and words by the hundreds. With courts curated for pre-determined outcomes, can religious tests for office be far behind? (Good news: if Trump can fake being a Christian and fool millions, anyone can.)

It’s not just their judges who signal that party’s decline. Funded in the millions, supported by powerful Republicans, there are, so far, seventy-eight Q-anon-affiliated candidates running for office in at least twenty-six states. Thirty-six are running for Congress; all are registered Republicans except four Independents. 

And there’s Sarah Palin, proudly uninformed Fox contributor seeking national office, Scott Pruitt, disgraced former Trump EPA head, and Eric Greitens, similarly disgraced Missouri governor. Not to mention dozens of current Representatives, uninterested in legislating but pushers of The Big Lie while fomenting division and hate; all likely to be reelected.

Democracy has rounded the final turn, heading into the home stretch. It’s 2022, or never. And it’s looking more and more like never.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Party Of Q


Being in Congress is a good gig: prestige, power, perks. Lavish retirement. Money on the side, if you’re so inclined. If coming up with well-considered, beneficial legislation for all Americans weren’t so hard, it’d be perfect.

But wait! Today’s Republicans figured out how to retain the benefits while not legislating at all. Getting reelected by way of electoral manipulations and by inflaming their distractable voters with disinformation and scapegoating, they’re realizing no downside to filling the wells of Congress with conscienceless, unproductive people. And they’ve hit upon the latest campaign targets to accomplish it: gay and trans Americans.

Fully given over to Qanon and Qanon-adjacent conspiracies, it’s “Pizzagate” gone mainstream, hollered from the halls of Congress, where inflammatory, rightist mendacity has become routine. Anyone who voted for Judge Jackson, declared Margorie Taylor Greene, is “pro-pedophile.” When Judge Jackson was officially confirmed, as Democrats stood and applauded, every Republican senator except Mitt Romney made a nasty, low-minded show of walking out. How nasty and low-minded must they consider the voters for whom they were performing?

Florida’s preferred nomenclature for its “Don’t say gay” bill has become “Anti-Grooming,” a truly despicable slander; as if it’s true that liberals want to “groom” your kids to become gay, and as if “grooming” sexual orientation is even possible. “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer, or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4 to 8 year-old children,” accused Repugnant Ron DeSantis, DeSmugly. It’s their latest vote-getting trigger-word; probably focus-group-tested with Fox viewers.

Grooming is, in fact, how they see any teaching of reality, because educated voters threaten their policy-free electoral schemes. Promoting misunderstanding of gender identity issues, Republican leaders sense a winning strategy for getting their base to vote, against their own interests, for people that otherwise dismiss them. Transgender girls in sports, for example, is a complicated issue, deserving honest discussion. Lacking ideas for our more existential problems, they’ll run on it, cynically. “I hope the left doesn’t understand how big of a deal it is,” said Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins.

Bullying America’s most vulnerable gets the votes they need, from the ill-informed people they’ve groomed. Rushing to make it a felony even to counsel transgender youth, red states play doctor, while pretending they’re the party of limited government. 

More DeSantis: he just threatened “cold war” with Georgia if they elect Stacy Abrams governor. Yet self-described conservatives rationalize remaining in that “limited government” party, one of whose governors tries to intimidate voters in another state over their potential electoral choices. One who’ll likely seize the mantle of Trumpism and lead the party to even worse breaches of constitutional democracy. (Admittedly, if Georgia replaces Senator Raphael Warnock with debate-avoiding, ill-informed, domestic abuser, Trump-endorsed Hershel Walker, cold war comes to mind.)

How disinterested are today’s Republicans in solving problems meaningfully? Texas governor Abbott says he’ll round up migrants and bus them to D.C. How fact-averse? Playing to cultivated stupidity, a candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General promises to prosecute doctors who refuse to prescribe ivermectin for Covid, despite its multiply-confirmed ineffectiveness. Given the undead persistence of Trumpism, it’s probably a winning strategy.

How lawless have they become? All but two R Representatives voted against holding Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for refusing Constitutional subpoenas. “The militant left wing in our country has become the enemy within,” said senator and convicted Medicare-fraudster Rick Scott, borrowing successful terminology from history’s worst tyrants while providing no examples of left-wing activities comparable to what militant right-wingers did on January 6. Republicans’ perpetual self-labeling as the party of law and order is laughable.

Sixty-three voted against a resolution in support of NATO, guardian of European freedom, and, by extension, our own. Ten voted against aid for Ukraine until Trump’s easily-breached wall is finished. (In fairness, the Senate voted unanimously to withdraw “most favored nation” trade status from Russia. Brave patriots all.)

Because of Republicans’ and their media’s grooming of credulous believers, none of the preceding outrages matter. Proof: under President Biden, job creation has occurred at the greatest pace in history; yet more Americans believe there’s been a net loss than know the truth. Why bother with policy when Trumpofoxification works so well? 

Is there a solution? Well, an experiment was done with regular Fox “news” viewers, getting them to switch to CNN for a month. As the researchers reported, “… participants concluded that Fox concealed negative information about President Trump. Partisan media does not only [give] its side an electoral advantage—it may present a challenge for democratic accountability.” Gee. Ya think? 

So, there it is: unFoxify voters, save democracy. If only 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

If Only They'd Listen



As if it isn’t already obvious, we’ve received another warning from climate researchers that we’re heading toward an “unlivable world.” Timely, a letter-writer to this paper recently threatened to cancel her subscription because of its coverage of climate change. Weather has always had “ups and downs,” she wrote. And, by golly, as I began this column, the sunny sky darkened and there was a flash of lightning, followed by a thunderous downpour. The temperature dropped four degrees in a minute. And now there’s some blue sky again. She’s right!

And she correctly thinks climate alarmism is about cashing in. But she suspects the wrong people. It’s not Governor Inslee, ma’am. It’s oil companies and their wholly-owned Congresspeople, who’ve unalarmed you. 

Deviating from the norm, she omitted the well-petrolated trope that in the ‘70s scientists were predicting another ice age. For one thing, it was a small minority of scientists. For another, the effects of greenhouse gases were less-well understood back then. And such a reversal over fifty years pretty much proves how fast the climate is changing. Unlike Trump’s lies and Fox’s “news,” science evolves with new information.

Likely, she’s a nice lady; loves her grandkids, if she has some, as much as I love mine. If so, why hasn’t she made the effort to become informed? Her children and theirs will be the ones who’ll suffer. Are there news media in Hell? Forced to watch MSNBC forever to see what they’d done would be well-deserved eternal punishment for Foxophilic deniers. 

Though the window for action is closing fast, there’s good news: education is still possible. Also, bad news: it requires turning off right-wing media and pretty much every elected Republican. And reading honest sources

So strong is the evidence, the predictions wrong only to the extent they underestimated speed and severity, it’s starting to look like all climate-change deniers are on the take, paid-off by crude CEOs and petro-dictators. We know Trump is in the sack with Putin, but by now one wonders even about denialist letter-writers to this paper. Ignorance neither excuses nor explains it anymore. Any reason is depressing, but which is worse: that people are terminally gullible, ignorant by choice, born without information-processing ability, or simply I-don’t-care greedy? What other explanation can there be?

Climate-change denial is on a par with another letterer on the same day, who still thinks Trump won and that evidence of Russian electoral assistance is a “patently false narrative.” How, one wonders, does he dismiss this undisguised admission on Russian TV

But let’s believe Trumpublicans that climate change is a hoax. Thanks to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, we’re seeing the consequences of a world dependent on predatory, dictatorial countries that produce fossil fuels. Even as Putin commits genocidal war crimes, those countries refuse to condemn him. We’re still selling weapons to some, and buying their oil. 

How much closer might we be to permanent energy independence if Trump hadn’t undone everything President Obama did to promote renewable energy? In fact, like most everything wrong with today’s Republican party, that damaging trend started with Saint Ronnie, as he did the same to President Carter’s efforts to reduce the need for oil fifty years ago.

Even if climate change weren’t threatening life on Earth, fossil fuels will run out eventually. The cost of renewables is rapidly coming down and efficiencies are increasing. What might the price of gas be today if Carter’s and Obama’s intentions hadn’t been quashed? In Snohomish County, 98% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. There’s no good argument against aiming for it for all of America. Think of the jobs it’d create.

It’s a good bet, too, that the problems of nuclear waste will be solved, making nuclear power highly attractive. Meanwhile, we know of several golf courses on the east coast and in Scotland, Ireland, Bali, and Dubai where it could be stored.

Yes, there remain significant issues with renewables. Birds killed, for one. Storage of energy when the sun and wind are off duty, for another. But in both areas, things are looking up. Something as simple as painting windmills differently is making a difference. Spinning towers instead of mills are promising, too. And, like computer storage from a few years ago till now, battery technology is evolving energetically. Lighter, denser, cheaper. Using current tech, some homes in the US are solar-electric 24/7. It’ll only get better.

Bombarded constantly with disinformation, we can sympathize with the letter-lady. But it only takes a moment to consider who benefits and who loses from continued use of fossil fuels to realize what’s going on.

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