Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Beach And Moan

Of the heads under the hats tossed into the main ring of the circus, i.e. those vying for Speakership of the House, seven of nine voted against certifying the fraud-free election of Joe Biden. All of them voted against the January 6 Commission, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, banning wage discrimination based on sex, ensuring the right to contraception, and the CHIPS and Science Act. Only one voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act; only one – a different one – voted to cap insulin costs; and only one – still another – voted for expanding healthcare to veterans exposed to toxins in the line of duty. This is what it takes to be a leader of a governance-incapable party: someone who’ll take them deeper into the wilderness. 

From the nine, House Rs first selected Tom Emmert (R-Nowhere), who lasted four hours, until Trump trashed him. “I killed him,” he bloated. Finally, emerging from the swamp, fourth-choice and farthest right of the far-right, Mike Johnson (R-Anti-everything, see preceding link) won the day. A founding father of overturning the election, defender of January 6, enthusiastic promoter of impeaching President Biden, opponent of Ukraine aid, anti-LGBT warrior, a nationwide abortion-ban zealot who said if it weren’t for Roe v. Wade, we’d have millions of healthy workers paying taxes to offset top-end tax cuts, and an anti-voting rights hero, he’s a Trumpist’s Trumpist, introduced Trumpically

Certain to continue with their new Speaker, in today’s Republican Party, manufactured outrage is broadcast in unison, like an mp3. Their latest concerto of criticism, overture of outrage, symphony of scandal, is that, after returning from Israel where he spoke forthrightly about Israel’s right to defend itself as well as the need to protect and aid Palestinian civilians, and rallied international support, President Biden took a walk on a beach.

“Americans are still being held hostage by Hamas terrorists — and Joe Biden is at the beach,” posted the RNC on Xwitter. Nearly verbatim, the expected mouths foamed it on repeat. On the Fox “news” website, a headline shouted, “Iconic rapper unleashes scathing rebuke of Biden’s beach getaway as war rages (sic) Gaza.” Earlier, it read “50 Cent” rather than “Iconic rapper,” until they realized their audience wouldn’t know who 50 Cent is; namely, someone whose political opinions are worth less than that.

To understand this next bit of spumescent tergiversation from MAGAland, an analogy helps: Consider a road through a residential neighborhood on which people dangerously break the speed limit. Say the local police have done little about it. Then imagine a new cop arrives and starts arresting speeders like never before. What if the local paper began criticizing the new guy, saying all those arrests prove the street is more unsafe than ever? See? MAGAs point to the huge increase in interdictions of people on the terrorist watchlist under President Biden as proof... (In fairness, “interdiction” is a bigger word than Trumpists are used to hearing.)

No analogy is needed for the bogosity of the latest “bombshell” from James Comer (R-Weaponization), that their Foxy “investigation” has discovered a check for $200,000 given to President Biden by his brother. (He wasn’t in office at the time.) A smoking gun? Only if repaying a loan is corrupt. What it is is another example of Joe Biden being there for his family. What it also is is the most pathetic, desperate attempt yet by Comer to smear President Biden. And laughable. Poor guy tries so hard. He has no reason to stop, though, as the Foxotrumpified will only process that there was a check, somewhere, proving... something. Because “laundering money” via personal check is how it’s done, right?

Counting on loyalists to keep defending the indefensible, Trump just promised, if elected, to keep out immigrants who don’t like “our” religion, and revealed to his rapt rally-goers that he’d discovered how “us” is spelled. On a corybantic roll, he then misidentified Republican hero autocrat, Victor Orban, as the leader of Turkey. (Imagine if President Biden had done that!) He’ll also pull “us” out of NATO (that sound you heard was cheers from the Kremlin.)

As Trump’s rally-based ramblings become increasingly incoherent, bespeaking a man losing what’s left of his mind, he manages to maintain control of a party that threw in with him in 2016, knowing he was an unfit, amoral conman. Despite his real-time unraveling, they’re in too deep to quit him. Their speakership clown-show genuflection proves it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Clowns To The Right Of Us

Obvious for years, Republicans have become incapable of governing except, when having sufficient majorities, in ways that benefit their wealthy patrons. It’s no longer subject to doubt. What we’re witnessing now is that they can’t govern for anyone. And, notwithstanding their congenital inability to take personal responsibility, preferring to place blame anywhere and on anyone else, it’s altogether their own doing.

It started with Newt Gingrich, still lionized on rightwing indoctrination media, the philandering wife-cheater, once and still perfectly described as “the stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.” If earth was smoldering before he sank to Speaker of the House, he immediately took a blowtorch to it, calling for and getting the end of bipartisanship. Which pleased their big donors, even if (or because) it did nothing for average citizens.

Aware of their exceptionally unpopular agendas but desiring perpetual power, in every state whose legislatures they control, Republicans are taking legal (as long as their hypocritically created, bought-and-paid-for SCOTUS majority remains) gerrymandering to unseen extremes, freezing out the opposition, assuring majority control despite having a minority of voters. They’re sneaky and good at it.

Eschewing the idea of democracy and free and fair voting, they proceed even though it means electing unqualified, irrational people to state and federal office. There might be a bit less gloating over their success now that a couple of handfuls of their not-best are making current congressional Republicans, in the words of one of their own, “look like a bunch of idiots.”

Having ejected Speaker-In-Name-Only Kevin McCarthy (R-Jell-O), the best they could propose for his replacement were, initially, a man who spoke at white supremacist rallies and compared himself favorably to the Grand Wizard of the KKK; and another, who’d done nothing about a pedophile team doctor while assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State, a January 6 insurrection insider who voted to decertify the election and remains a denier, who’s been literally in contempt of Congress for two years and figuratively for his whole career, who sponsored a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion nationwide without exceptions, who called a ten-year-old rape victim from his own state a liar, who personifies government weaponization and is the dictionary photo next to “witch hunt.” His made-for-Fox, committee-chair “gotcha” questions were regularly shot down with facts from Democrats.

Abetted by Fox “news” Trumpagandists, who threaten reprisals to naysayers from their viewers, that person, Jim Jordan (R-Trump), deployed his minions to intimidate, menace, and dox “no” Republicans. And their wives. When you can’t win on merit, bully. Nice. Gingrichian nice. And on-brand. MAGA’s brand, because Jordan is Trump.

The paramount job of Speaker is wrangling votes to pass legislation; something at which, no matter what you think of her, Nancy Pelosi was exceptionally successful. Ranked fifth from the bottom by the Center for Effective Lawmaking, in his sixteen-year career, Jordan has proposed scant bills, and only one that passed, even in his own House. If, knowing all this, their party selects him, honorable conservatives should abandon it like the submerging sloop it’s become.

Ironically, Republican efforts to marginalize all opposition might be what brings a return to something like bipartisanship, if only temporarily. If enough “never Jordan” Republicans maintain spine, the only solution to the current paralysis will be selecting as Speaker someone on whom enough Republicans and Democrats can agree. Democrats stand ready to support just such a person, Hakeem Jeffries, well-liked and respected, thoughtful and calm, a constant caller for bipartisanship.

Failing that, getting enough Democrats on board by proposing a reasonable Republican would make the Crazy Caucus irrelevant, something, it’s clear, non-crazy Republican members would love to see. As added incentive for such bipartisanship, indicted liar George Santos’ (R-Brazil) promised to resign if there’s cooperation.

Some pundits and politicians have said Democrats should have voted to save McCarthy’s asinine. Perhaps, but it’s worth noting that not a single Republican ever voted for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. And, even as his support was teetering, McCarthy vowed not to turn to Democrats; and he’d spent most of his Speakership lying about President Biden and Democrats while kowtowing to Freedom(-hating) Caucus nihilists; making Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Space lasers), of all people, Speaker Pro Tempore. Hoping people will notice this astronomical dysfunction and vote accordingly in 2024, Democrats are right to popcorn, as Republicans remove all doubt about what they’ve become.

The Trumpofoxified will keep sending to Congress people like Greene, Boebert, Gaetz, Gosar, Tuberville, Cruz, et awful ad infinitum, so the only way to produce legislation helpful to all Americans, even the MAGA cult, is for non-oxymoronic sensible Republicans to return to pre-Gingrich times, when meaningful progress resulted from trans cooperation.

Note: These columns are sent in by Wednesday evening. We’ve yet to know the resolution of the Speakership debacle, if any. We do know Jordan lost the second vote with less support than first time, and that Rep. Jeffries received more votes than Jordan, both times. Such is the self-made bed in which Trumpojordanistas lie. Both meanings.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Root

Could it be, given God’s penchant for mass murder and genocide, having wiped all of humanity except for one family on one occasion and, later, all the first-born sons of Egyptian mothers, citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife, etc., that the horrifying bloodbath happening, yet again, in the Middle East, is going according to His plan? In any case, going back far enough, it began with religious hatred.

If the inevitability of death had caused people to realize what a rare gift life is and how its brevity calls us to make the most of it, charitably, empathetically, with open hearts, there’d have been no need for religion. Instead, imperfectly as we’ve evolved, or, if you prefer, were created, we’re wasting this incalculable wonder, mostly in the name of one religion or another.

My Jewish heritage probably follows a straight line back to Adam and Eve, who can’t have existed. And although I always considered Bible stories purposefully allegorical, raised in a semi-religious family and having gone to Sunday school for a dozen or so years, I was taught to believe in God. Said my bedtime sh’mas and God-blesses for Gammy and Grandpa, Mommy and Daddy, my brother and sister, and Dougie McCarty.

As I grew up, though, it became increasingly difficult to reconcile the misery we see in the world with an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God. Childhood cancers, starvation, floods and earthquakes, hemorrhoids and autoimmune diseases. Nor did it make sense to blame it on Uncle Adam and Aunt Eve taking advice from a snake. Only a child abuser would punish all future generations for the equivalent of reading a naughty book. If a creator exists he/she/it/they can’t be as described in the Bible. Were the thoughts. In my (God-given) brain.

With hundreds of religions in the world invoking thousands of gods, believers in whom are as certain of the supremacy of theirs as are the believers in all the others, how can any claim exclusivity? Especially those who commit mass murder and genocides in the name of whoever it is they pray to. When I lost two nieces, each in their twenties, each beautiful in form and spirit, brilliant and loving, the kind that everyone considered their best friend, one in a tragic accident, the other from a sudden illness, I saw no godly plan. If it was, it was of someone I wouldn’t invite to dinner.

Currently watching a relative in their nineties fading into non-existence, requiring help to do literally everything from toileting to eating, unaware of who or where they are, I see anything but loving, wise, perfect creation. I do, though, see a healthcare system failing because, say the God-fearing, to provide more would be godless communism.

Oh, but Stalin and Pol Pot were atheists, you say. And religions and religious people have done many good things. True. But I’d bet believers who do good because it’s right, rather than for promise of heavenly reward or fear of eternal punishment do so because it’s who they are, regardless of which texts or traditions they hold holy. It’s true of my religious friends. And of atheists I know, who employ useful skepticism, who understand science, vote for decent people, give time and money to causes that help the needy, call out lies and liars, love their families.

Atheists aren’t the ones who put into office the most ungodly man ever called “president” and see in him the handiwork of their God; a man who lived his entire life in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ and still does. No, that would be people who consider themselves the best Christians, the most deserving and put-upon of all Americans, who’d force their beliefs on all others and who love to imagine other-believers burning in Hell for all eternity, if not longer. They’re also the ones spreading lies about six billion dollars of taxpayer money President Biden sent to Iran, who’s spending it to fund Hamas. It isn’t. He didn’t. They’re not. Because not a penny has gone anywhere. The party of God is the party of liars. 

The horrors in Israel and Gaza have escaped all attempts at resolution. Though Trump and his idolators blame it on President Biden, and others blame Trump’s failure when he went to Jared, at the heart of this latest, ghastly Middle East bloodshed is religion, bastardized through centuries into self-righteous hate. Likewise the Holocaust, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem (actual) witch trials, slavery, forcing birth and refusing to succor the born. As if a god worth honoring would allow any of that.
How nice if all believers would accept theirs as their own choice and respect the choices of others as equally valid. Because they are.

The sunsets are spectacular around here; the mountains and old-growth forests; the waters, and, when visible, the night sky. Also, my grandchildren are a delight.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023



Well, at least we now know for sure that Trump’s supporters, especially so-called religious ones, will never waver. If you haven’t yet seen the proof, follow this link. For those unable to avail, it’s a courtroom-sketch-like image of Trump, in court. Jesus is at his side, looking grim. He (Trump, not Jesus) shared it on Truth(less) Social, his vanity media platform. With text reading, “This is the most accurate court sketch of all time. Because nobody could have made it this far alone,” the sketch reveals the depth of the cult. (Jesus, of course, would have looked nothing like that image. And “this far” is subject to interpretation.) 

To millions, Trump has been all but deified. In interviews of his supporters, he’s praised for his “deep faith,” for his “love of Jesus.” This, about a man whose entire life has been one of immorality, cheating, flouting the law, and lying; whose Christianity is as fake as his combover. Who was close to a church during his presidency only for a photo-op with a Bible held upside down. So, if the caption is true, it’s because Jesus finally has had enough, making sure Trump gets his comeuppance, sitting close to make it happen.

To hold Trump up as some sort of religious ideal is to fall for the most obvious of obvious scams. Which is the point. If fraud weren’t already a thing, Trump would have invented it. And named it Trump.

Small example: at his recent appearance in Michigan, touted as support for auto workers and their unions, held in a non-union, non-auto-making shop, there were people holding signs saying “Union members for Trump” and “Auto workers for Trump.” Nice signs. Professionally made signs. Spelled correctly, even. Interviewed afterward, those people admitted to being neither union members nor auto workers. Surprise.

Larger example: the fraud case currently being tried in New York. Beneath Trump’s usual cries of “witch hunt,” malicious attacks on everyone involved sits the easily discerned truth: he lied. About the real estate value of Mar-a-Lago, for one, because, by deed, it’s barred from being a private residence (another law broken). In fact, Trump appealed to the local tax authorities to insist that it be valued only as a club, saving him hundreds of millions in property taxes. But, to the banks, he valued it as saleable as a residence. Over-valued, even as such.

More telling was his statement that he could value his properties however he wants, because “the Saudis” would pay whatever he asked. Like when they gave his son-in-law a cool two billion. Raking in millions while in office, his entire “presidency” was a grift.

Unable to keep his mouth shut, Trump has, quite literally, admitted his fraud. Icing the sponging cake, for another example, he deemed square footage a matter of opinion. At this point, it appears all that’s left to decide in the NY fraud case is how much of his holdings he’ll lose. Maybe that’s why Jesus was sitting in: having once said, “Blessed are the poor,” He’s there to make sure Trump joins the ranks.

The cult of Trump exists within the halls of Congress, too, though many of his accomplices appear to see through him but are, like Trump himself, too devoid of integrity to act honorably. Which is why their impeachment “inquiry” has, so far, been a showcase of incompetence on their side and an impressive display of rebuttal from Democrats; particularly their new, young, smart, thoroughly-prepared young members. 

Republican committee people know it doesn’t matter. Proving it, Byron Donalds (R-FLA, of course) flashed a note from President Biden’s brother to Hunter Biden, doctored to suggest the president was involved in illegal payoffs. That it was about helping his troubled son to pay his alimony was edited out.

To the cultists and the Foxified (not mutually exclusive), facts are dismissed out of hand. All they need to know is there’s some sort of impeachment happening. Asked for a show of hands from anyone who agreed if Trump is guilty, he should be punished, not a single Republican hand was raised. And when Ds asked Rs to call Giuliani’s henchman, Lev Parnas as a witness, because he can publicly debunk their Burisma claims, which they know are false, they refused. Behold the work of Jesus?

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