Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Divide And Conquer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Lessons Of January 6


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Too Much To Take

I almost passed on writing a column this week. Thinking hard enough about our political future to put it into writing is becoming depressing. For example: how can Hershel Walker be deadlocked with Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s senate race? Is it because Trump endorsed him? If so, then how, after all the criminality roiling around the former “president,” can his imprimatur still be influential?

The latest news about the ex-football player’s personal life doesn’t matter to Trump, for obvious reasons. As to the ex-football player’s denial, who can doubt the word of a man who graduated at the top of his college class, spent years in law enforcement, and runs four hospitals? He says. His son says, “Family values, people? He has four kids with four different women, and he wasn’t in the house raising one of them. He was out having sex with other women…” 

Senate Republicans and “pro-life” groups have made it clear they’re with him no matter what. So is Mitch McConnell’s super-PAC. Of course they are: they stopped caring long ago about qualifications or expectation of positive contribution to America. They’d support a spawning salmon if it’d give them a majority, enabling their undoing of democracy. Say what you want about libs, they’ve never put forward such unseriousness for senator. Not since LBJ drove Southern Democrats into Republican arms. Even Ronald Reagan would be ashamed.

Curious to see how well Pennsylvania’s Lt. Governor John Fetterman speaks after his stroke, I participated (i.e., made a contribution) in a Zoom meeting on Monday, with him and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, the latter of whom is running against Wisconsin’s Senator Ron Johnson, regularly referred to as America’s dumbest senator. Fetterman did fine; stumbled on a word here and there, but not to any dramatic degree. And Barnes can hold his own anywhere. I hope their debates are streamed.

If it’s possible that a domestically-violent, unqualified, campaign-coached, debate-canceling ex-football player can defeat smart, informed, dedicated incumbent Senator Warnock, the prospect of Mr. Oz the snake-oil-selling, charlatan doctor representing the cradle of our democracy is even worse. To this fellow surgeon, anyway. An unabashed quack dealer, he’s another who has much in common with Trump. An embarrassment. Seriously. Watch this video.

And Ron Johnson: in favor of banning abortion with no exceptions. If women don’t like it, he says, they can move. Laughed off January 6, saying the protestors “did teach us all how you can use flag poles.” Became the slippest Freudian, ever. A hardcore, Trump-excusing election denier, he had this to say about Covid vaccines: “Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combatting disease?” No doubt many voters, alive thanks to creations of medical science against God-created diseases, are thinking the same.

It matters. If Washingtonians can’t vote for the better candidates in Georgia or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, we can consider what their nomination tells us about today’s Republican party; and why it behooves any actual conservative, along with liberals, whose policies have repeatedly benefitted America, to refrain from supporting any Republican for federal office, until they abandon Trumpism.

Which includes our own, one of whose many misleading ads pushes the discredited lie about 87,000 IRS agents coming after the middle class. And who’s been unconservatively silent about Trump’s latest call for violence, echoed, from the same stage, by Margorie Taylor Greene, who makes the ex-football player seem more motherly than Theresa.

Democrats are planning to kill Republicans, said she, to applause, meaning it literally. Mitch McConnell has a death wish, said he, along with a racist comment about Mitch’s wife, also to applause. Given what January 6 insurrectionists said about Trump’s instigating words, someone might well feel called upon by their God-given idol to attack McConnell. Nary a word, except stumbling excuses, from Republican leaders. (MTG also warned that electric cars, which can leave gas cars in their dust, are [checks underwear] “emasculating.”)

Returning to our local lady, wouldn’t it be nice if political ads were prohibited from lying? Product ads are, after all. It’ll never happen as long as Republicans have the filibuster, because it’s all they have. They killed a bill to require revealing “dark money” donors, too, and Democratic bills protecting voting rights, among many others of benefit to us all. In my Zoom meeting, Mandela Barnes made a strong case for ending the filibuster, which makes a structurally unfair body even more so.

It’s too much to process. Demonizing the vulnerable, dehumanizing asylum-seekers. Overruling doctors and their patients, rejecting certified election results, endumbing education. MAGAfied candidates: Congress, governorships, secretaries of state, state legislatures, judges. If Trumpublicans win, that party – and maybe the country – is lost for generations.

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