Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
It’s common at this time of year
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
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
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
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:
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
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
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
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.
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.
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