Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Chilly Children

It’s hemi-heartening that there’s been an uproar over the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling regarding in-vitro fertilization (IVF); namely that frozen, fertilized eggs are “children” in need of protection from murder. Even hard-core, anti-choice Republicans, though far from all of them – including whoever placed that bomb outside the home of the DA who said he’d not enforce it -- are backpedaling. Many of them previously signed legislation declaring that life begins at fertilization, putting IVF at risk. 

Even referring to frozen, fertilized eggs as embryos is a stretch, in that they’re generally fewer than a dozen cells. To make sure those “children” are doing their chores and going to bed on time, you’ll need a microscope.

Only one of those judges, all of whom are Republicans, foresaw the closing of IVF programs, which help not only women trying to get pregnant but also ones undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, who have eggs harvested before treatment. Because some of the intended implants are found unsuitable or die, they’re discarded, making IVF personnel murderers; a risk many are unwilling to face.

There’s not been a clearer preview of America under MAGA-trending theocratic governance. That this specific outrage has some Republicans scrambling doesn’t change the fact that reactionary, Bible-based thought underpins most of their agenda, whether it’s women’s health, LGBTQ+ issues, school prayer and curricula, books, and more.

With enviable insight into God’s thinking, the Chief Justice of Alabama’s court explained his Biblical concurrence: “... In summary,” he wrote, “the theologically based view of the sanctity of life adopted by the People of Alabama encompasses the following: (1) God made every person in His image; (2) each person therefore has a value that far exceeds the ability of human beings to calculate; and (3) human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, who views the destruction of His image as an affront to Himself... [E]ven before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory...”

As the Alabama legislature hurries to exempt people who live in freezers, one wonders if such a law would require their court to reverse itself. “We got it wrong. Turns out God doesn’t believe that.”

Tom Parker, the aforementioned Chief Justice (but not Elvis’ manager), revered by far-right, forced-birth conservatives, had an interview with a Qanon-positive podcast, where he espoused the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” which promotes the wedging of Christian nationalism into all aspects of American life, to bring about the End Times. He is, of course, free to believe whatever he wants, but it has no place in judicial rulings or legislation. Nevertheless, he and all of those justices were elected, by people who must either want theocracy or are too high on Trump’s anticipated government weaponization against liberals to care. In this case, “End Times” refers to democracy.

“Theocratic” also describes the latest CPAC attendees, who cheered a man holding up a crucifix, saying it signifies the law they want. Neo-Nazis were there, too. Which didn’t stop Trump, Cruz, Gaetz, Tuberville, MTG, faux Christians all, from showing up to preach their gospel. Trump’s was a promise that, “[for] liars and cheaters and fraudsters and censors and imposters who have commandeered our government, [the day after my election] will be their judgment day”. “They want to steal my liberty,” he added. Which, coincidentally, is what happens to criminals when justice prevails. No one projects like Trump.

Even America’s worst leaders, like Governors Abbott and DeSantis, plus former “president” Trump, atypically wind-fingering majority opinion, are expressing support for IVF. To his credit, Trump has also spoken in favor of a sixteen-week abortion ban, more liberal than hardly any of his supporters would accept. Seeing if he changes his tune as his handlers panic, will be interesting. His reason, though, is consistent with his usual effort to understand complex issues: he likes sixteen weeks because it’s “a round number.” 

Theocracy and autocracy go hand in hand (as long as it’s not people of the same sex interdigitating). It’s perfect for America’s most repetitive scammer. The least religious, most profane person ever to become “president,” Trump has convinced millions of the opposite. His pretense of belief is like his hugging and kissing the flag, of which he made another shabby show at CPAC. This, while promising to turn government into a vehicle of vengeance; while degrading the indispensable protectors of our flag: free elections, and the law. That kind of “love” is the kind that kills.

But since his only consistent agenda is to punish those who, following the laws of our land, are attempting to hold him to account, Trump will happily cede policy decisions to Christian Nationalists while he goes about having enforcers of the law and us liberal “vermin” pilloried in the public square.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Putin Love

Vladimir Putin is a murderer, killing with impunity, by defenestration, poison, bombs on planes, imprisonment in life-threatening circumstances. Whatever the proximate cause of death, and no matter the length of his arm from Alexei Navalny, Putin, to whom Trump seems ready to hand Ukraine, is directly responsible for his death.

Navalny was praised and mourned by every leader of the free world. Except Trump, Putin’s biggest fan other than North Korea’s Kim and China’s Xi. The Kremlin attributed Navalny’s death to “sudden death syndrome,” a practically meaningless medical term. After three days of silence, using the Kremlin’s exact words, and then, per usual, making it all about himself, Trump wrote: “The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country. It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction...” 

No mention of Putin. None of what Navalny stood for. He died a day after Trump invited Putin to invade any of our NATO allies he chooses.

If Trump ignored Putin’s role, Tucker Carlson, Putin’s most enthusiastic osculator outside Trump's circle and Republicans of Congress, excused it. Asked about Navalny and the many journalists similarly dispatched, he said, “Every leader kills people. Some kill more than others. Leadership requires killing people.” Which raises the obvious question: what does Carlson know about Jeffrey Epstein’s “suicide” that the rest of us don’t?

Visiting Moscow, Carlson rhapsodized over Russian subway stations and a supermarket where goods are cheaper than here, finding himself “radicalized” against America’s leaders, as a result. A self-described “journalist,” he’s evidently unaware that the average weekly income of Russians is equivalent to $200, and that a majority spend half of that on food.

Residing in clean and groceryful parts of Russia comes at a cost: living where dissidents die or disappear; where people peacefully protesting their government’s actions are arrested by the hundreds. This is Putin’s governance, admired by MAGA Republicans. Not unlike the use of government for vengeance against his critics, as promised by Trump.

Not to be outdone by Fox’s formerly biggest star, Newt Gingrich, probably the individual most responsible for the degradation of his party into scorched-earth, dishonest, no-compromise behavior, chimed in: “Watch the Biden Administration speak out against Putin and his jailing of his leading political opponent while Democrats in four different jurisdictions try to turn President Trump into an American Navalny.” Trump is already trying.

That perfidious piece of deceitful excreta is no outlier among MAGA Republicans, who consider the convicted January 6 criminals “political prisoners,” and investigating Trump’s criminality equivalent to Navalny’s summary imprisonment and death. That’s more than just dishonest, more than “hardball” politics. It bespeaks either appalling but intentionally created ignorance of America’s system of justice or rejection of it: the indispensable foundation of our enduring democracy. It confirms what many, including me, have said, time and again: MAGA Republicans’ view of America is the opposite of patriotic. Echoing Trump and his congressional enablers, they’d prefer Putin-style dictatorship, as long as it’s Trump, revered leader of the cult, pusher onto enraptured believers of outdated, useless, $19 high-top tennis shoes for $400. 

When Navalny was poisoned, twice, he barely survived. Later, he was arrested and sent to prison, where he died. Public mourners have been rounded up and arrested; but treated, so far as we know, somewhat less terminally. Unlike Alexei Navalny, Trump and the J6 insurrectionists have been duly investigated and represented by counsel. (For those who believe the lie that President Biden is behind it all, note that many of the charges are state-level, not federal.)

Evidence has been presented to grand juries comprised of ordinary citizens who concluded indictments were warranted. In some cases, subsequent law-following juries have found Trump, et. al., guilty. Because our system allows nearly endless appeals and delays for those who can afford it, unlike the J6ers, Trump remains at large. In the unlikely event of imprisonment, like members of previous Republican administrations, he’ll probably enjoy a gentlemanly one.

To see Trump as comparable to Navalny in any way is to love Putin and Trump too much and America too little.

Now, an important subject-change: Adding to his string of unexpectedly exculpatory witnesses, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer’s star testifier to Joe and Hunter Biden’s “corruption” has been indicted by the same Republican special counsel who’d praised his believability, for lying about everything he said, spreading lies fed to him by Russian agents. 

Similarly, “True the Vote,” the MAGA group whose claims of election fraud in Georgia were and remain central to Trump’s continuing big lie, admitted in court that they have no proof of anything they’ve said. 

Fortunately for Trump, Fox “news” still pushes the lies, and MAGAs can’t see the difference.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024



Appointed by Attorney General Garland to investigate President Biden’s handling of documents, Robert Hur, after exonerating him, dwelt on memory lapses, as if they were relevant to the law. And unique. In prior depositions, Trump may have set the record.

When my parents came to my college graduation, I introduced my mom to a group of friends as my wife. Returning to D.C. for Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” first time there since I was twelve, I was surprised to find my memory of the Library of Congress couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s beautiful. I’d remembered it as a standard-issue, city-style library. Same with my memory of JFK’s penultimate public speech before Dallas, when he spoke in honor of our Robert Frost Library. Wrong campus location, wrong status of the building.

Following several days intubated in an ICU, my dad died. The picture of him and our family surrounding him is branded into my mind, every detail, probably because as doctor/son, my opinions guided the decisions we made. But I can never remember the year except by recalling that he was almost ninety and was born in 1915.

Despite those cognitive failings, and being within two years of President Biden’s age, I’m able to write columns intelligibly enough to engender repetitive emails calling me a liar. (When I reply, asking for specifics, none are forthcoming. Ever.)

After yakking about President Biden’s memory, spurred by Hur’s hit-job, Sean Hannity introduced Kellyanne Conway as Kellyanne Trump. Trump has told us he beat Barack Obama, and that he saved us from World War Two. Looking at a photo, he confused one of his many wives with E. Jean Carroll, and, in real life, Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi. He spoke admiringly of Viktor Orban, Republican hero and Europe’s only dictator, but thought he led Turkey, not Hungary. Dodging the war by way of fake bone spurs, he said “dating” multiple women at the time and avoiding STDs was his personal Vietnam. He didn’t mention impregnations.

The point: Memory is mercurial, mangled by more than just age. No doubt, it has tricked or abandoned every person reading this. More than once.

Since he let Mr. Hur’s report stand, allowing hundreds of spurious attack-pages after the exoneration, A.G. Garland is owed a MAGApology for saying he’s in the tank for Joe. The report has more than accomplished its anti-Biden intent. Dudgeon on the left and right and everywhere between is higher than the running count of Trump’s lies. A lifelong hardcore conservative, originally appointed by Trump, Mr. Hur knew exactly what he was doing.

But okay: as he has throughout his political career, President Biden produces verbal gaffes. Some, if not most, relate to the constant, intense effort he and all of those so afflicted must make to control stuttering. And, like you, me, Trump, and everyone you know, he sometimes forgets and confuses things, every instance of which is reported at DEFCON 1 by all media; whereas Trump, having “misspoken” so often it’s become white noise, gets nearly no mention. On rightwing media, none at all.

I wish President Biden had the gift of elocution we’ve seen in Barack Obama and his wife, in Pete Buttigieg and his husband. JFK. Pre-second-term Ronald Reagan. Were it the case, MAGAs would have only the border to scream about; although, in killing a border bill that gave them everything they’d been demanding, they’ve lost that issue. Except for the impervious Foxified, who probably haven’t even heard the news. Desperate to regain the issue, cynicism cubed, they’ve impeached DHS Secretary Mayorkas.

If your preferred pronoun is “MAGA,” you admire Vladimir Putin and the other dictators over whom Trump fawns. You welcome Trump’s intent to use NATO membership as a protection racket. “Nice alliance you got there. Don’t do my bidding, I’ll invite Putin to invade you and won’t lift a finger. Except, you know, that one.” Words to that effect. It’s yet another example of Trump’s renunciation of our Constitution.

If your pronoun is “American,” you’re appalled. Confirmed by his own pronouncements, Trump is a threat to democracy, our allies, and the world; whose most consistent promise is “vengeance.” By contrast, no matter his age and gaffitations, the accomplishments of President Biden on behalf of America and the world are myriad. More to come, if Democrats retake the House. Except for the FoxoMAGAfied, who’ll never see it, the choice is easy.

As is recognizing that voting third party is voting for Trump. RFK Jr’s SuperPac’s Superbowl ad was largely funded by wealthy, election-denying Trump supporters Timothy Mellon, Patrick Byrne, and others. Any questions?

Wednesday, February 7, 2024



It was a bad week for Trump. Immunity. Mayorkas. Holy Mike. But there’s more important stuff to talk about.

A few weeks ago, our granddaughter went to see the Taylor Swift movie. Her mother sent videos of her, happy beyond words, dancing and singing in the aisles. She’d worn her T. S. shirt and a cute skirt, and, based on hundreds of other girls similarly attired, was definitely among friends.

When it was over, and the undocumented Hondurans came through the theater with voter registration forms, she happily signed up. So did all of the other girls. She’s not entirely sure who she’ll vote for in November, but she has time. She’ll be eight by then. She’s still into fairy dust and unicorns, so she’s considering Marian Williamson. We’re trying to talk her out of it, but you know how it is with kids that age: can’t push too hard or they’ll do the opposite, just to tick you off. At least she’s not mentioning Dean Phillips.

Her grandmother and great-grandfather are Forty-niners fans, so she’s torn about the Super Bowl. She cried a little when Travis Kelce broke Jerry Rice’s post-season reception record. Taylor is for the Chiefs and when our granddaughter watches Fox “news” she hears about the nefarious plot vis a vis (as she likes to say) Trump.

Whoever she votes for, she’ll use a drop box. At her age, voting in person is tricky. Not that it hasn’t been done; it’s just that, based on every instance of discovered fraud, Republicans are a lot better at that sort of thing. And she’s definitely a Democrat. Goes to a very diversely-populated public school in Portland.

Much as I’d like to think otherwise, our granddaughter had very little to do with convincing those billionaire Republican NFL owners (Mark Cuban excepted) to throw games in order to get the Chiefs into the Super Bowl, platforming a Swift/Biden endorsement. She stopped after a couple of calls because a few of them had read my columns and hung up on her.

In other news, Putinophilic mouthpiece Tucker Carlson is in Russia. At the time of this writing, we don’t know when he’ll be interviewing Vladimir Putin, which he says he’s doing “because no one has told [people] the truth.” But we can be sure they’re already talking Trump. It’s likely a one-way thing, with Putin’s demands of Trump received and Tucked in eagerly. Making no secret of his devotion to Putin and his Europe-conquering plans, rhymes-with-Tucker will be only too happy to deliver the latest mail, the color of which need not be stated.

In return for another round of election meddling to reinsert Trump, Mr. Putin will be insisting on bigger things. Bigger than previously removing sanctions on his oil. Bigger than sharing state secrets with Russian agents in the Oval Office. Merely threatening to pull out of NATO will no longer suffice. Maybe adding another S into USA and changing the A to R, too. Tucker’s just the syco to phant the manifesto to Mar-a-Lago. Would destroying a certain tape quid the pro? Doubtful. Not until Putin gets everything he wants. Toward that end, Trump had barely begun.

We may soon learn whether the conditions for repeat scale-thumbing from that side of the world include making Carlson Trump’s VP, giving Putin an inside twofer. Were that to happen, what would Elise Stefanik do? Stop calling the jailed J6-ers hostages and return to her pre-groveling position that they deserved punishment to the full extent of “the law;” a term the following of which is headed to antiquity in a second Trump “presidency”? Unlikely. Though Rudy’s probably a lock for A.G., she could still be Secretary of Defense. Unless it’s Alina Habba. Only the best.

If the preceding seems peripheral to the posturing produced by a political party pandering to a perverse predator, there are times when, watching the residua of that party behaving with such dereliction, attempting humor is self-preservation. How else to respond to the abject uselessness they’ve demonstrated by rejecting a border bill they’d demanded and which gave them everything on their wish list; so much so that they’re justifying their no votes by lying about what’s in it?

With disgust, at minimum. And despair for our country. A lame attempt at badinage? If only it were possible to laugh off consequences like possibly handing Ukraine to Putin and allowing Trump and his prostrate propagandists to keep lying about the border. In a saner world, such blatant proof of their hypocritical unseriousness would mean they’d get not a single vote in November.

Speaking of which, our granddaughter, deep-sixing the deep-state plot, now says she plans a write-in for Taylor Swift.

Popular posts