Wednesday, August 31, 2022



I hate to keep pointing out the proto-totalitarian mendacity of today’s Republican Party. After all, who wouldn’t want to see them become helpful? Well, as it turns out, they.

Take inflation (please). People are hurting. Yet here’s what Florida Senator Rick Scott, notorious for paying the highest fine ever for Medicare fraud but elected anyway, Trumpishly, said about it: “This is a goldmine for us.”

Which explains the Republican response as inflation has begun declining: accusing Biden of lying. Insisting, against CBO economic analysis, that the Inflation Reduction Act, won’t. Casting full blame on President Biden when inflation has many causes and is higher in several other countries. Asked what their anti-inflation plans are, Republicans change the subject: immigration, walls, crime (but not Trump's). Because they have none and don’t want one. Why look a “goldmine” in the mouth? 

Or consider President Biden’s plan to cancel a portion of student loans, mainly for those making an average of $70 thousand/year. Controversial, for sure. If, as in better-educated countries, post-high school education were included in government funding, it wouldn’t be an issue. While Rs eruct outrage, morality being their strong suit, they ignore their own who had PPP loans forgiven, including some of the loudest screamers. But it’s unfair to students who paid, is what they say. 

Being fair-minded, I won’t bring up the many hardworking contractors Trump stiffed, or his six bankruptcies, which allowed him to skate on millions he owed. Curiously, this lifelong history of absconding on debt wasn’t disqualifying for Republican voters; the same ones, no doubt, extruding red-hot offense over President Biden’s action.

Nor would I even think of mentioning that “Forgive us our debts” thing in The Lord’s Prayer. I will, however, point out that as progress happens, pre-progress people may not benefit. That’s how it works: progress progresses past the past. Social Security, medical breakthroughs. Automobiles. Indoor plumbing. Unfair to the previously born.

But there’s something that reveals even more clearly to whom Republican leaders are indentured, what their political priorities are, and in what low regard they hold the voters they consider their gullible base. Namely, the reactions to funding 87,000 IRS agents, as contained in the Inflation Reduction Act. Contemptuous lies: impenitent, confidently cynical, too many to recount here. 87,000 agents, they shriek, armed with AR 15s, will be busting down doors of ordinary people, taking their hard-earned money and their children’s lemonade stands. At gunpoint.

The lies aren’t coming only from execrable media conspiracists like Jones and Carlson. It’s the head of the RNC, Cruz, Scott, Graham, McConnell, McCarthy, Rubio, Grassley, and more, plus the usual House crazies. Repeated hundreds of times, by actual count, by R Congresspeople and their “news” dispensers, the lies persist despite thorough debunking.

And, of course, they’ve led to Trumpism’s favorite activity: death threats. Which, it should be noted, are also happening to employees of the National Archives and FBI after Trump attacked them for doing their jobs. Trumpists believe anything and stop at nothing. Leaders count on it.

Here’s the truth: new hires will occur over a period of ten years. Due to normal attrition, the net result will be an increase of 40 thousand employees, bringing the IRS back to the number it had in 1990; most will be customer service representatives and analysts, not agents.

The number of new agents added over that decade will be fewer than 7,000. Less than one percent of IRS agents are armed, and that won’t change. Their targets are super bad guys, like drug cartels and Russian oligarchs, among which, we assume, typical Americans – even Trumpists -- aren’t. 

The IRS has made clear its intent to use the increased resources to go after very wealthy cheaters, who bilk the government out of billions. Which exposes the reason for those Republicans’ shameless lies: frightening people who don’t cheat into voting for them, at the behest of and to protect those who do. 

Bending truth may be a bipartisan political activity, but this level of incandescent Republican lying about everything bespeaks a party committed to nothing but its own power and its paymasters’ demands. Aware that their policies don’t attract average voters, they’ve made disinformation their electoral strategy. The violent, scapegoating rhetoric of their next great blight hope, Ron DeSantis, against LGBT citizens, Anthony Fauci, public education, and more, shows there’s no bottom for Trumpublicanism to hit. Encouraging civil war if laws are enforced and Trump is charged for his crimes, they echo the worst of human history. 

MAGA Republicans, who recently feted Hungary’s fascistic Viktor Orban, are indignant that President Biden called them “semi-fascist.” Agreed: he was wrong to say it. There’s nothing “semi” about them. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Fahrenheit 45


Edward Luce, reporter for the Financial Times, tweeted this: “I’ve covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world over my career. Have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous and contemptible than today’s Republicans...” To which General Michael Hayden responded: “I agree. And I was the CIA director.” Which he was, serving presidents GWB and BHO, left and right.

Not even Republicans, especially Trump’s diehards, can dispute it. In fact, the more nihilistic and dangerous their leaders and candidates are, the more inflammatory and dishonest rhetoric they dispense, the more enthusiastically Trumpublicans, still in control of that party, endorse them. They WANT nihilistic and destructive candidates, fawn over them, no matter what their fellow citizens, including themselves, stand to lose. Exactly what Luce and Hayden were talking about.

Over the top, you say? Blinded by unwarranted, commie, “woke,” CRT-pushing, Soros-funded, baby-eating, infanticide-promoting, climate-hoaxing, (education-promoting, library-liking, science-understanding, diversity-not-fearing, empathy-endorsing, sexuality-comprehending) baseless Trump hatred? Hardly. Just look around.

Starting, again, with the obvious: Trump illegally removed highly-classified documents from the White House and took them to America’s leading toxic waste repository known as Florida. Recent reporting states he personally inspected all of them last year: he knew what was in them; knew some were higher than top-secret. And not planted. He refused to return them when requested. Why? What did he plan for them? And why would any law-loving American defend it? The facts are undisputed. His “only-the-best-people” lawyers are making it clearer every day. 

Central to the American system of justice are checks and balances. The FBI can’t “raid” homes without a warrant; including former “presidents.” Their lawful retrieval of documents, which Trump had no right to keep, followed months of investigation, ignored requests, and lies; coming only after authorization by a Biden-appointed US Attorney General, Trump-appointed CIA director, and a Trump-era federal magistrate, all of whom found probable cause. Their suspicions have been confirmed. Never one to pass up a good grift, Trump is, reportedly, sucking $1M per day from those suckered into contrived outrage.

From the right, there’s been virtually no support of constitutional rule of law. “If the home of a ‘president’ (who illegally removed highly sensitive documents and left them virtually unprotected) can be raided, so can anyone’s (who similarly broke the law and put national security at risk)” scream the screamers. This is anti-democracy nihilism at its close-to worst.

Closer is the lineup of unqualified, cynically-chosen, anyone-who-can-win-the-MAGA-vote candidates, top to bottom. Hershel “too many trees” Walker. Snake-oil pusher, TV creation, Mehmet Oz, who had to know he was peddling fake cures and did it anyway. To the tune of millions of dollars and countless deceived people. A skinny Trump. Also, JD Vance: former never-Trumper who five-fingered the wind.

Unmoscowed, Mitch McConnell is worried that, because of such terrible candidates (“candidate quality” is how he bemoaned it), he won’t regain senatorial majority leadership. And we’d miss his signature hypocrisy: doing what he accuses Democrats of doing, while decrying Democrats if they do what he’s been doing. 

Bad as that is, it’s in the states where theocratic intolerance is spreading like Carlsonian conspiracies. Governors, state legislators, secretaries of state, city councils, school boards, are being packed with election-denying, book-banning, Foxotrumpified Christian nationalists claiming to protect us from their latest, focus-group-tested MAGA manipulator: “Woke.”

But what’s more agenda-forward than banning history books, novels, any pages and words that might cause white Superchristian children or their parents to feel discomfort? Of the kind that stems from being asked to recognize equality under the law, of people other than those they see in the mirror.

In Florida, Texas, and elsewhere, they’re busily ensuring that people who respect religion enough to believe in keeping it separate from government have no voice. “Woke,” if it has any meaning at all, is, in fact, shorthand for Jesus’ most fundamental teachings: empathy, generosity, open-mindedness. Pushers of the opposite, like DeSantis and his holier-than-everyone-else followers, think it’s their ticket to Heaven. This is ironic. 

Running a close second to the preceding descriptor of Florida, Texas has passed a law limiting ballot drop-off locations to one per county. Henceforth, Loving County, with fifty-seven residents, will have the same number as Harris County, which includes Houston and has 4.7 million people. It’s not mysterious where most Democratic voters live.

In red states, the march to America’s unique, anti-Christian “Christian nationalism,” with its censorship, white supremacy, and enforced ignorance, appears unstoppable. And, since the Constitution unwisely embedded minority rule federally, nationwide takeover is well on its way. 

Lacking easy solutions to self-created problems, humankind is turning to scapegoating and authoritarianism, demanding only thought-free obedience and certitude in one’s unique, unassailable rightness. Which explains it all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Coming In Fifth

“The truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

“The only reason to plead the Fifth is if you’re guilty.” Trump 0:yes.

440 times, did Trump so plead. Though contradicting himself mid-sentence has been a signature move since he first deescalated into politics, he decided to defend this particular flop of a flip, unfurling the familiar witch hunt metonymy. Funny: armed with truth, witch hunts should be the perfect forum for fighting injustice with it. But his truth wouldn’t have been freeing. No mystery there.

There is mystery surrounding those documents lounging at Mar-a-Lago. Why did he take them? Why had his lawyer sworn they’d been returned? Did Trump bleat that the FBI would plant evidence because he knew they’d find incriminating stuff? It’s reported he watched on the same CCTV on which the DOJ had previously observed people carrying boxes into and out of the unsecured room; which is why they’re fingerprinting the documents. Lacking standable legs, Foxotrumpists attacked the FBI and lied about the judge who approved the warrant. Leading, Trumpistly, to death threats. 

Contradicting his planted documents claim, Trump announced he’d sprinkled magic declassification dust on them. It doesn’t work that way, but okay. Let’s see them. How do you spell FOIA? 

Lying with no consequences to adoring millions who never question or demand accountability makes a person careless. As craven cohorts contrive to condone it, there’s no denying Trump broke a law he’d signed, lied about President Obama doing the same, flung excuses like a misaligned pitching machine, hoping for a strikeout. But documents were there, labeled top secret. Spin on it. 

The preposterous pretext prize goes to “He takes work home.” The guy who, per multiple sources, was disinterested in security briefings unless they were reduced to pictures, who watched TV past midnight, did homework. (Brooklyn Bridge.) Less amusing possibilities: passing secrets to Putin and MBS as payment for electoral help and billions in cash. Blackmailing the French government. Showing it to his paramours? We may never know, but nothing in Trump’s past takes anything off the table; in fact, his lifetime of multiply-investigated business practices, lawsuits, and purported associations with Russian mobsters put it snugly in the credible column. Russian TV implied secrets are already in Putin’s hands. 

Impossible? Recall that, even as the half-Obama’s-size crowd was demobilizing from his inauguration, Trump shared secrets with Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office, causing the CIA to extract a deep-cover agent from Russia. 

Darker in its implications for our country than Trump’s potential harm is how the right (or, more properly, the wrong) slavishly defends it. The crazies calling for killing FBI agents on sight; one giving it a prehumous try. The no less bedumbed, in and out of Congress, demanding to defund the agency. (Oh, Irony, you crafty jokester!) Government overreach, they call it; political tyranny, despite the fact that, prior to executing the warrant, they’d requested the documents, been lied to about them, even subpoenaed them, to no avail. Possible crimes against America require investigation. Surely even America-loving Trumpists can agree.

Imagine an employee found to have removed secrets from the Pentagon and taken them home. Of course law enforcement would investigate. Yet, while leaders remain silent or join in, Trumpublicans are calling for civil war over it. “The party of law and order” needs an update. How about “The party of lies, death threats, and encouraged violence”? (Insert BLM whataboutism here.)

Trumpists will never waver. But do no Republican leaders, other than Liz Cheney, who just lost her seat for the unforgivable sin of speaking truth to Republicans, have the courage to say enough is enough? Even at the risk of becoming yet another lie-rejector purged from the party, Stalinist Politburo-style? In the Trump era, to remain an elected Republican in good standing, one must accept and defend lies and crimes, no matter how debasing. How troubling for those who have remnants of conscience. If any there be.

Eric Trump is sure President Biden was behind the FBI search because when he was allowed off-leash in the White House he saw daddy ordering his Attorneys General around. By contrast, understanding and defending American democracy and the Constitution in ways Trump never has, nor ever will, here’s President Biden, swearing in Attorney General Merrick Garland: “... You aren’t the President or the Vice President’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation to guarantee justice.” Trumpublicans find that impossible to comprehend.

Meanwhile, as they scream, prevaricate, and eschew policy, President Biden and Democrats have been enacting legislation that benefits us all. Come November, don't forget to remember. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Bill Of Particulars


Rarely are we provided an exemplar that perfectly captures a complex subject, requiring only simple observation to understand everything: what’s become of the Republican Party, for example. Improbably, at last week’s CPAC convention, there were two.

Least surprising was the featuring of Europe’s most dictatorial right-wing leader, Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Fresh off a speech in which he’d unequivocally staked his claim to white supremacy (“… we do not want to become peoples of mixed race”), he was showered with standing ovations; thus were eliminated any doubts of Trumpublicanism standing for authoritarianism, xenophobia, and white grievance. CPAC is Trumpublicanism emblazoned: all of its wannabes and neverbes, its liars and demagogues, flock there as if to the Holy Land, to strut the stage, aglow with received adulation.

But the most mind-blowing proof was off-stage. Representing incarcerated January 6 insurrectionist law-breakers, on display, in a cage, was an orange-outfitted “prisoner” actor, weeping performatively. Oh, the heart-rending injustice: criminals, properly found guilty in courts of law, paying for their crimes. Gathered tear-eyed as if before a creche, bearing witness, the formerly law-and-order-crowing crowds raised their hands to heaven in prayer. If the scene doesn’t confirm the mindless cult that’s become of a once-useful party, nothing does. 

Insinuating herself into the cage, Marjorie Taylor Greene, idolized not in spite of but for her insanity, knelt before the man – A PAID ACTOR!! – camera-ready praying and holding his hand. And yet (hold tight your head, lest it snap on the swivel) she says no one will ever convince her the insurrectionists weren’t Antifa. In which case, for whom tf was she praying?

Proof of their descent into irrationality is undeniable, the Bill of Particulars long. Lauren Boebert got Orbanish applause for demanding, smug-faced and self-satisfied, that Dr. Fauci be prosecuted.

Away from the convention hall, there was worse; though some was amusing. As Fox “news” reported President Biden’s record-breaking, prediction-busting jobs numbers, they ran a chyron stating “WH misses forecast on lower July jobs growth.”

Not a single Republican senator voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, which will benefit all Americans, even those who don’t care. For the first time, it’ll address climate change seriously. It beefs up the Affordable Care Act, takes important steps to lower prescription drug costs, and fights inflation. Having failed to block President Biden’s pro-America package, Republicans got back on their cruelty feet to kill a bill capping the cost of insulin, which is around ten times higher in the US than anywhere else. The cap would have still been three times higher.

Many of them said no to the CHIPS act, aimed at making the US more competitive with China in manufacturing computer chips. Indiana’s strict anti-abortion laws are driving corporations away and causing Ob/Gyn doctors to look and go elsewhere.

We learned that, during Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings, as dozens of tips about his bad behavior came in, the FBI chose not to investigate. As despicable liar Alex Jones finally got his due, we’re reminded that Trump appeared on his show and Fox’s super-spreader Tucker Carlson called him “one of America’s most important truth-tellers.” And we read of the ongoing struggle of generals to keep Trump from using the military as his private police force.

Which brings us to the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, in which the party of law and order sees Q-anon levels of abuse of power by President Biden. Right. With nothing but good news lately about Joe’s succession of successes, he’d raid Trump to get the news off the front pages? News like unemployment at a fifty-year low; gas prices at three-month low; inflation down; Zawahiri eliminated; the CHIPS, PACT, and IRA acts passed. What it says, in fact, is that, unlike Trump’s control of the FBI and attempts on the Pentagon, President Biden had nothing to do with the DOJ decision.

For Attorney General Garland and a federal judge (appointed during Trump’s “presidency”) to sign off, there had to be compelling reasons to suspect criminal behavior, concluding, as reported, months of investigative lead-up. But law-loving Trumpworld took time off from chanting “lock her up” to express outrage that laws apply to everyone. Evidently, it's crime only when liberals and minorities do it. 

Raiding Trump's rule-skirting home is no more unprecedented than the crimes of which he’s suspected. It had to have been justified extra-convincingly, which Trumpublicans will never believe. Trump has a copy of the search warrant. To prove he's being wronged, he should release it. Paradoxically, rational analysis was available only to Fox “news” viewers.

Alternatively, take it from me: Anyone being investigated by the FBI is not qualified to be president of the United States.

Oops. Sorry. That’s what Trump said about Hillary Clinton, incessantly, during the campaign of 2016.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Apocalypse Now

From a recent letter to the editor: “… Biden and his cabal of leftists are crushing American energy with their America Last policies, focusing on climate change, proposing massive new taxes, and denying we are in a recession...”

From another: “… This country is better and deserves better than people like Schwab who really do nothing more than sling insults aimed at degrading and discounting large groups of people simply because they have a different view ...”

Apocalyptic times call for apocalyptic writing; mine, too. I wonder, though, how writer #2 would characterize #1. He also implied, if cheek-tongued, that my opinions make me a domestic terrorist. When it comes to hyperbole, it seems, we’re in it together. It’s nice, as Americans, to share.

Except that in the latter case, the writer, whose Facebook page contains warnings by fact-checkers that his posts are false, misstates and repeats a claim about calling decent conservative citizens “domestic terrorists” because they disagree with “liberal” positions. That assertion, we don’t share. 

Characterizations of domestic terrorism have been applied by proper definition; such as to Proud Boys, who invaded the US capitol on January 6, and to citizens screaming their way into school board meetings, aflame with the false notion that Critical Race Theory is being taught, and/or overblown LGBT lies, threatening violence to board members, their families and homes. It’s not about disagreement, #2: it’s about violence, real or threatened. Disagreement is good for democracies. Tell that to Donald Trump.

Not that writer #1 was better informed. President Biden has, in fact and to the dismay of climate activists, okayed more drilling on federal lands. This he did with rising gas prices in mind. As to “crushing American energy,” he and Democrats, seeing the climate on the wall, are pushing, wisely, for alternative energy innovation, in which America could and should become the world leader.

Massive new taxes? Only on billion-dollar corporations making record profits even as they jack their prices. The money raised by and the programs in the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit all Americans. And, yes, reduce inflation. Not all of us see that as a bad thing. Same with “focusing on climate change.” Dangerous as they are, though, I don’t consider her opinions akin to domestic terrorism, as #2 might, if other-shoe-footed. 

Those two letters are but a tiny sample of the disinformation, deliberate or due to unwitting Trumpofoxification, in rightwing apocalyptic claims. Supporters of Trump, listeners to Tucker, buy their lies about Democrats wanting to “destroy you.” Or quash dissent. On the rare occasions they specify, it’s about “grooming your children” to become gay, transgender, or dinner. Or wide-open borders, bringing in illegals to vote Democratic. None of which are remotely true. Otherwise, it’s just inchoate fear-mongering. And wishing our problems away, which, unlike Trump, President Obama and President Biden didn’t. 

Would the “liberal agenda” destroy America? Depends on which America. If it’s the longed-for one where gays were closeted, women had little control over their reproductive decisions, climate change could be ignored, minorities found it extra-difficult to vote and “knew their place,” then yes. Liberalism is about equality, economic fairness, addressing climate change, fair election laws, protecting humanity and the environment from industrial poisons, ensuring quality public education and more widely-available, less-expensive healthcare. And science.

It’s an agenda aimed at making life better for all Americans, including Trumpists. Other than those who’d make America an evangelical Christian theocracy, lacking public education, accessible healthcare, and unrestricted access to voting. And those who believe Trump’s obvious lies. Those lies aren’t the apocalypse: believing them is.

The Trumpublican agenda favors only the very wealthy, and corporate CEOs who prefer to be unregulated. They no longer pretend otherwise. We’ll all suffer, Trumpists included, from ignoring climate change. And forced birth. They may think they’ll “stick it to the libs” forever by preventing fair voting and promoting Christian Nationalism, but forever lasts a long time. So does history.

What about blocking funds for veterans suffering from burn-pit poisons, then fist-bumping their joy, for no legitimate reason but the aforementioned lib-sticking? (After the deserved uproar, it passed, but their first instinct is illuminating. Eleven R senators still voted no.) Twenty House Republicans voted against a child-trafficking bill. Eight abstained. Refusing to stand against pedophilia. Why, for God’s sake? 

If some far-lefties propose defunding police, for example, they’re not mainstream. Election lies, by contrast, and anti-democratic laws that follow, are central to Trumpublicanism. So is nominating unqualified crackpots to office. If both sides claim their opposite will destroy America, only one seeks progress for Americans of all kinds, while the other seeks to block it. Come November, vote accordingly. 

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