Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Joe Calling

President Biden hasn’t called me lately, but when he does, this is what I’ll tell him: DON’T.

Don’t yield to Republicans’ demand for drastic budget cuts while insisting that you do the math. It’s their politispeak, not yours. Their performance art and pretense. Don’t play their cynical game. They campaign-promised it, so make THEM tell voters what THEY want cut. They want you to negotiate? Fine. Tell them to open the bidding. So far, they’re dodging specifics like batters facing Randy Johnson’s 90 mph slider (those were the days!)

The closest anyone has come is Trump-fluffer, Santos-excusing, Congress-diminishing Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who’d cut “woke” Defense Department programs. She wasn’t asked to specify examples, of course (it was on Fox “news”), nor did she suggest how much would be saved. But that’s easy: Compared to the total budget, it’d round off to zero. 

Darn it, there I go again. I shouldn’t be so divisive, some readers tell me. We need healing. Stop driving wedges, they urge; speaking, most likely, from among the 48% of Republicans who inexplicably prefer Trump, winner of “America’s Most Indictable,” as their 2024 nominee. The non-divisive healer who just assured us, in what passed for a campaign speech: “We will stop the left-wing radical racists and perverts who are trying to indoctrinate our youth and we’re going to get their Marxist hands off our children.” That’s what he’ll run on. Wedgies? Sounds like he’s got them. When he’s not taking the Fifth.

If Republicans can’t end public education outright, they’d make it into a safe space to send kids of parents who’d prefer to keep them ignorant of everything but arithmetic and third-grade-level reading. Turning school board meetings into combat zones, they aim to populate those institutions with a blizzard of Foxotrumpists, the real snowflakes, more afraid of knowledge than Tucker Carlson is of M&Ms with feet.

And if they don’t succeed in reinventing public schools as groomatoriums for childhood ignorance, there’s always the Nazi-school option. And now they can buy their children the groomtastic JR-15, a kid-size AR-15. It’s America!!

Trump’s only the first to toss his scat into the ring. In MAGA world, no political hopeful can get far without plucking the same strings, repeating tried and true lies, proven to rile the rock-bottom remainders.

But Trump didn’t omit the other Fox-button issues. His “education” plan would cut funds for school programs that include “critical race theory, gender ideology, or other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content onto our children.” As emperor, inappropriateness will be his to define, presumably.

And he’d have school principals elected by parents. Plus, lest he’d miss a favorite MAGA target, he attacked transgender youth. Because of course he did.

Any red-hat-tossing candidate will be expected to echo – amplify, more likely – the same. Nor could any of them hope to prevail without pushing the election Big Lie; now, per RNC Chair McDaniel, an explicit priority.

How stone-carved are Trumpists’ tendentious talking points? Has anyone apologized for their disgusting, conspiratorial lies about the attack on Paul Pelosi, now that video is available debunking them all? The opposite, in fact. Shown footage of the attacker using his hammer to break in, a Fox guest famous for claiming he was let in by Mr. Pelosi because something-something gay, still insisted his entry should be investigated. Nor has it made an impression that the attacker said he wished he’d been better armed in order to hurt more liberals.

Foxotrumpism is not only about ignoring facts: it’s about actively rejecting truth as if it doesn’t exist. Fox and Trump: hardening hearts against it like two-syringe epoxy. Which applies to investigatory R Congressfolk like Gym Jordan, as well.

If lies are the point, so is corruption. As Kevin McCarthy’s controllers ready their investigations into “weaponizing the government,” we’re learning more and more about Trump’s willingly weaponized Attorney General, William Barr. Those “investigations” will conveniently divert attention from how Barr (and, later, his hired hitman, John Durham) ended or muzzled investigations into Trump’s many crimes. Buried evidence, too. 

Newly unwedged, though, I won’t mention how MAGAgonists blame President Biden for fuel prices and lay egg costs on him, ignoring the massive 2022 profits just reported by both industries. Failings of liberalism or price-gouging? I hold my tongue.

Applying to real life the admonishments I’ve received, if I ever see someone setting a house on fire, rather than trying to arouse the people he put in danger, I shall point out that harnessing fire was a major step forward for prehistoric humankind; and that we must excuse the arsonist as we do Trump, because he was, in effect, just saying what was on his mind.

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