Wednesday, July 26, 2023

People, Not Parchment


Democracy is only as good as the people in it. Parchmented prescriptives have no plenary power. If it’s possible to enforce the law when individuals are involved, a two-party system crumbles when one party chooses to ignore it, as policy. Which is what’s happening now, and has been for decades of Republican devolution; turned to eleven since the “election” of Trump; more so after his subsequent fraud-free, Constitutionally-certified loss.

Alabama’s legislature and governor have brought home the truth of it. Ordered by the Supreme Court of the United States to redraw their racially gerrymandered voting districts, mandating that, in a state in which Blacks represent over twenty-five percent of the population, they must create at least two, not the current one Black-majority district, they defiantly refused. “We know our state better than people in Washington,” paraphrased their governor, confederately. “We,” by the way, are these people.

In refusing the order, Alabama bird-fingered their Trump-friendly, carefully constructed, Constitution-ignoring, law-reversing, bench-legislating Court. Their lack of power to enforce their rulings now exposed, the reactionary majority on SCOTUS had previously considered themselves free to make whatever untethered rulings for which they were appointed, because they could. And because they knew that, unlike today’s Trumpublicans and their blood-red statehouses, Democrats, believing in Constitutional governance, would comply. They being the good people in our democracy, as referenced in this column’s opening statement.

Picking up the baton of belligerence, Texas Governor Abbott refused a DOJ order to remove his deadly and clearly illegal floating barricades from the Rio Grande. As far from constitutional conservatism as they are from the moon, today’s Republicans act as if the only laws that apply are those with which they agree. And they’ve convinced their self-pitying acolytes to feel the same. Whatever their leaders do is okay, as long as it “sticks it to” the right people. 

They won’t have to bother much longer, as both Trump and DeSantis promise to “eliminate liberalism.” Not yet clarified is how; but America may not have enough prison camps and gas chambers when they do. Maybe they’ll enslave liberals and teach them life skills. MAGA.

Trumpism is devoted to convincing white, metaphorically-cuckolded males that voting for Trump will provide vengeance for their inevitable loss of primacy. Constantly bombarded by lies about turning their kids gay, mutilating them and changing their gender, about educational brainwashing and woke Mickeys, happy to have their kids grow up lacking knowledge of history and science, they welcome the Trumpic march to oligarch-funded, scapegoat-blaming autocracy. Conjoined not in spite of; because of.

Nor are they able to see what’s behind this relentless march: string-pulling polluters and carbon producers seeking free rein, through their paid-for judges and wholly-owned congress-dwellers, to lie about and ignore the most critical problem we face as humans: climate change. Too conspiratorial? Follow the money, as they say. As long as they can despoil for profit, they’ll keep bankrolling MAGA Republicans and their leader, a lying, law-breaking, despot-emulating, climate-change-denying deceiver. 

And so it goes: Simultaneously railing against “liberal cancel-culture,” Trumpists are boycotting Bud Lite for its one-time, blink-and-it’s-gone online ad featuring transgendered Dylan Mulvaney.  Appearing so briefly that approximately none could have seen its original posting, it drove them calculatedly crazy. And now, the greatest outrage of them all, so existentially ominous that Ted Cruz, unconcerned for people in his state dying from heat stroke, ERs flooded with the not-yet-dead, and people drowning under Abbott’s death-buoys, has declared righteous war on it: THE BARBIE MOVIE. Top of the list. Fox “news” stars are all in, too.

An unapologetically racist and misogynist right-wing icon, Ben Shapiro filmed himself barbequing Barbies and their accouterments. This was after seeing the movie and noting that the audience was only six- to eight-year-old girls and their young mothers. Was his anger the only thing rising? Performative indignation notwithstanding, the movie is breaking box-office records.

As inexplicable as undying support for Trump, MAGA folk continue to fall for those distractions, swallowing lies about open borders, failing economy, rising crime. In fact, America’s economic recovery is dramatically more robust than anywhere in the world; manufacturing is so strong that Morgan Stanley, explicitly crediting Bidenomics, has revised upward their predictions of GDP growth. 

Following President Biden’s policies on asylum, illegal border crossings are at their lowest in two years; interdictions of drugs are at all-time highs. Murder is down nine-percent over last year; all violent crime is declining. Inflation, which, at its worst, was never as high as Europe’s, is now a third of what it was. Unemployment is at historical lows; rising wages are outpacing inflation, consumer confidence is soaring. Thousands of infrastructure projects are under way, creating millions of jobs. 

Facing factuality, Republican leaders have realized that defeating Joe Biden requires lies and distractions, voter suppression, and financing stealth third parties. And, sure, why not: impeachment, solid as cotton candy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Not Logical

Six-week fetal-heartbeat bans, to another of which Iowa has just given birth, make neither physiological nor religious sense. Put a shelled peanut in your palm. It’s only a little bigger than a six-week embryo. Tiny, is the point, such that it should be possible, if not to agree, at least to understand how some people might consider it different from a fetus, much less a fully-formed, recognizable baby in utero.

At that stage, a “heartbeat” is a collection of brand-new heart-muscle cells contracting in unison. But, since arteries and veins are only beginning to form, they’re doing none of the work that hearts are there to do. In what way, therefore, does that detectible six-week proto-myocardial activity constitute a meaningful end-point for terminating a pregnancy? A throwback, maybe, to ancient times, pre-Bible, when the soul, the self, was thought to reside in the heart? A working one, presumably.

If the timeline of embryogenesis provides useful markers for legal abortion, might it more reasonably be when something akin to the human brain is present? Isn’t that what sets us apart? At six weeks, the neural tube is developing, but it’s nothing like a brain. 

Absent that, how does a “heartbeat” define a human, as separate from other developing mammals, from whose embryos at that stage, a difference can’t be distinguished? The only “logical,” consistent position for anti-choice people who consider a fertilized egg equivalent to a baby, is banning abortion from the moment of fertilization. That, at least, in some sense of the word, is logical. Proposed bans on birth control fit right in.

Speaking of logic, we should acknowledge, as written here in the past, that at least a third of fertilized eggs and embryos die spontaneously – or, for those who believe that He has a plan and knows us before we’re born, at God’s hand. The scientific term for “miscarriage” is, in fact, “spontaneous abortion.” In His handiwork, we should also include stillbirths and post-partum deaths from unsurvivable birth defects.

While there are no laws making God’s reproductive interventions illegal, in several red states women must prove they did nothing to induce a miscarriage if it happens, or be considered an imprisonable felon. Proving a negative, in other words, which is impossible. And they’d be criminals if they were to leave their state to obtain a legal abortion. It’s the, you know, limited government thing.

Speaking of abandoning logic, or, more properly, truth, you’ll be hard-pressed (a term of mysterious origin, first used in 1707 – I was curious) to find a Republican presidential candidate who isn’t pushing the stupendous lie that Democrats are for abortion up to the moment of birth. Beyond, even, according to some, including Ron DeSantis. Which puts the whole anti-choice movement, at least as applies to Republican legislators and seekers of office, into perspective: Like all of their lies on loop, it’s a disingenuous signal to their voters, susceptible as they are to all similarly mendacious miscarriages of truth. In fact, it’s safe to say – because some have admitted it when discovered – that many anti-choice advocates have previously availed themselves, meaning their mistresses and consorts, of the procedure.

It’s not unlike Clarence Thomas, having taken personal advantage of affirmative action, pulling up the ladder (or, in this analogy, the curette) behind him. If there were time limits on Non-Disclosure Agreements, it’s a safe bet we’d know of others. Including one who’s on his pre-candidacy record claiming to be pro-choice. For easily-understood reasons.

Forced-birth minds won’t be changed by this or any other commentary. So let’s mention other ways in which Trumpublicans are determined to make the world more dangerous.

In Florida, a state among the highest in pandemic death rates, Brevard County Republicans declared Covid vaccines “biological weapons” that must be outlawed across the entire state. In Texas, unchristian Governor Abbott has deployed deadly barricades of spiked buoys in the Rio Grande, which will purposely kill people trying to cross. This he justifies because of President Biden’s “open border policy,” which doesn’t exist. But the lie does, and it encourages people who believe it to come to the border. And die, if the Abbot-toir works as designed.

In DC, pretty much every Republican characterizes Trump’s current and imminent indictments as purely political, notwithstanding his illegal taking and lying about classified documents and planning an insurrection. He’s still lying about the Presidential Records Act. “Criminalizing political disagreement,” is what they call it. I won’t mention the NYT article describing Trump’s post-election plans to turn the presidency into a dictatorship, exactly as MAGA Republicans hope. 

But let’s end on a happier note. Michigan’s Attorney General just issued felony indictments to all sixteen participants in Trump’s anti-democracy, pre-dictator, fake-elector scheme. And Marjorie Taylor Greene has narrated the most effective pro-Biden political ad to date. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Cometh The Savior, Again

Clearly produced by a randomly-editing, drug-addicted monkey, a video released by Ron DeSantis’ campaign is equal parts homophobic, homoerotic, anti-Trump, incomprehensible, and one hundred percent bizarre. No wordled description can convey its mystifying content. It must be seen.  

Asked for comment, openly-gay Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg responded thus: "I'm going to leave aside the strangeness of trying to prove your manhood by putting up a video that splices images of you in between oiled-up, shirtless bodybuilders..." Then he got down to it, the defining question of the 2024 campaign; one that must be asked of every Trumpublican, which includes all candidates no matter how they do or don’t defend Trump. They all repeat his lies and attacks on otherness, offering nothing substantive: “Who are you trying to help," asked Pete, "Who are you trying to make better off, and what public policy problems do you get up in the morning thinking about how to solve?” To which he provided compelling examples of what President Biden, he, and others in the administration have done; and what Democrats stand for. 

That ought to be the motivating question for all politicians: what are you for, as opposed to what and whom you’re against? In what ways do you intend to make life better, and for whom?

Trump made his policy emptiness even clearer than DeSantis in a campaign ad in which he walks resolutely toward the camera, a grim-faced, stony savior of the self-pitying and fearful, to the sound of his voice reciting, biblically, with cheers in the background, “This is the final battle. With you at my side, we will abolish the Deep State. We will expel the warmongers from our government. We will drive out the globalists. We will cast out the communists, Marxists, and fascists. We will throw off the sick political class that (ed note: projection alert) hates our country. We will rout the fake news media. And we will liberate America from these villains once and for all.” 

Wow. Fascism, cubed. Plus Stalinist purges. Scapegoats. Mortal enemies. No free press. No independently-thinking, experienced government employees. Made-up monsters for haters to hate. It’s a campaign brazenly pushing fear and grievance, lacking anything positive for anyone, except revenge for those shadowy threats his voters have been made to believe, through relentless lies. “Deep state.” “Communists.” Marxists and (projection alert #2) fascists. The cheering says it all: Trumpism is nasty, projectile negativity, the promise of apocalyptic vengeance against id-iot nightmares. It’s why they love him.

Trump and his congressional personifiers call upon the worst of us and it’s answered with enthusiasm from the depths of Trumpistic animus. If DeSantis’ video was more obtuse, his message was the same. It’s about destroying certain people, not building anyone up.

It’s also why Trump pretends his two indictments (so far) are badges of honor: “They want to take away my freedom because I’ll never let them take away your freedom.” To which a former RNC Chairman, from when the last shreds of integrity hadn’t yet been dispatched with prejudice from his party, responded, “What utter bullshit.” If Trump sold crucifixes bearing his suffering image replacing Jesus, the cultists would pay any price, and wear them as talismans of their fealty. But how might they process his words, spoken when running against Secretary/Senator Hillary Clinton, regarding her over-hyped, under-illegal emails? “If she were to win under felony indictment it would grind the government to a halt and create a constitutional crisis."

The answer, of course, is they wouldn’t care. Any room for dissonance in their headedness has been displaced by bone; logic and facts are distractions, if noticed at all. Which is why their candidates and alreadys can project a world opposite to reality, believed by their irremediably Foxified legions.

“We’re a nation in decline,” says Matt Gaetz, expecting, presumably, our radicalized Supreme Court to remedy it by continuing to promote Christian nationalism, removing Constitutional protections from everyone else.

“OUR ECONOMY IS IN SHAMBLES,” all-capsed Trump. Tim Scott, supposedly a rational Republican candidate, declared, inverting reality like an hourglass, “Three years ago, our economy was thriving. Today, we’re all worse off." By no metric is that remotely true.

But, counting on cultivated incuriosity, he’ll be believed, against facts as available as air, that Trump inherited a failing economy and left it in great shape. It’s a lie as big as Trump’s stolen-election bogosity, turning truth on its head

Running as retributive messiahs, Trump and DeSantis are sides of the same counterfeit coin. Meanwhile, Republicans who voted against President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which plays a central role in the unequaled recovery our economy is experiencing, greater than any other country (including lower and lowering inflation), are rushing to take credit when money from the bill arrives in their districts to fund important, job-producing projects; more in red states than blue. In a rational universe, they’d be laughed off the stage

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