Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Truth, By George


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Rhymes For The Crimes And The Times


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Christmas, after all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Those Texts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Constitution? What Constitution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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