With the cascade of stupid, immoral, illegal, subversive, un-American, and possibly treasonous things emitted by der Sturmtrumper, his pet Congress, his supporters, and his administration reaching levels that make it nearly impossible for any sane person to keep up with, I’ve started just keeping a running list of observations on the matter. Every time the list reaches critical mass, I suppose I’ll post it and start a new one. Can’t hurt; might help. Here’s the most recent list:
1. You know how the GOP likes to think it’s the party of business? How it is running the country like a business and that this is somehow, despite all the available evidence, a good thing? I’m not going to get into all the reasons why running a government like a business is jaw-droppingly stupid, since apparently the GOP is immune to having that pointed out. But even if you assume that running one species of organization by the far different standards of another is remotely justifiable and not evidence of either pig-headed ignorance or actual insanity, the fact remains that they aren't running anything like a business. Businesses thrive on investments – you have to spend money to make money, which is perhaps the first thing they teach you in business school after “don’t borrow money from guys whose middle name is ‘the’ if you wish to keep your kneecaps.” Any business worth the space it takes up on the planet would be happy to spend $84 in order to get $370 back – that’s a profit of nearly 350% on expenses, after all. You could retire on that kind of margin fairly quickly. But no, the GOP simply looks at the $84 spent and says, “Oh noes! We can’t afford that!” I suppose it’s not surprising that their current party leader in the White House has gone bankrupt six times while trying to sell booze, gambling, and red meat to the American public.
2. On a related note, Scientific American just published an article noting that the economic benefits of the Obama-era rules to curb greenhouse gases would run to around $370 billion, a tidy profit on the $84 billion that they are expected to cost. And guess which rules are high on the GOP chopping block as “too expensive.” Go ahead, guess! I’ll wait.
3. This might be the same general reason why der Sturmtrumper is so happy about the recent jobs numbers. The US added 1.07 million jobs between February and July of 2017. MAGA, right? That’s certainly what he and his minions, cronies, and lackeys would have you believe. Except that if you compare the February to July 2016 numbers, when Obama was in charge, those were actually bigger: 1.24 million jobs. So were the 2015 figures: 1.37 million. As were the 2014 figures: 1.51 million. And, surprisingly, so were the 2013 figures: 1.17 million. Der Sturmtrumper’s numbers are, in other words, the weakest job growth of the last five years. Obama NEVER ONCE failed to beat those numbers in his second term in office, not that I would expect this to be acknowledged by anyone in the GOP. Nor would I expect them to acknowledge that der Sturmtrumper’s 1.07 million jobs is the lowest total of any six-month period going back to 2012. But what’s factual accuracy when you’ve got a country to pretend to run?
4. There is nothing so dangerous as a cornered rat, and der Sturmtrumper is rapidly approaching that phase of his failed presidency. With the Russian noose getting tighter and tighter, approval ratings tanking, legislative agendas collapsing, and the GOP fragmenting, it’s all coming apart. And thus you have his recent Twitter shitstorm accusing pretty much every media outlet except the GOP in-house newsletter that is Fox of being “fake news.” Say it with me once again, people: “Fake news” is not defined as “things you don’t want to hear.” That’s called journalism. Everything else is just publicity.
5. Apparently der Sturmtrumper dictated Fredo’s false and misleading testimony to Congress about the Russian connection, and then justified it as parental duty. You know, my dad would have kicked my ass if I had asked him to lie for me, because my dad had integrity. I’m not sure the “parental duty” thing really applies here, unless you’re talking about the in loco parentis duty of the American people to punish an unethical moron.
6. So der Sturmtrumper, having accomplished almost nothing, is off for a 17-day vacation. On the one hand, having him far from power is probably the best hope this nation has for stability and prosperity. On the other hand, well, there’s a reason Newsweek put him on the cover sunk into a lounge chair, next to a bag of Cheetos (hah!), and above the caption, “Lazy Boy.” He’s spent nearly a third of his brief Reign of Error on vacation, once you add in his taxpayer-financed golf trips to his own properties. As former Mexican President Vicente Fox said, “If you’re not happy with your job, just leave.” And der Sturmtrumper may just do that, though perhaps not on his own terms.
7. Of course Mike Pence is preparing for a presidential run in 2020. He’d be stupid not to. While Pence – a bog-standard Dominionist theocrat and right-wing Koch Brothers meat puppet – has a great many flaws, a lack of political ambition isn’t one of them. He knows, perhaps better than most, that der Sturmtrumper’s days are numbered, and that even if der Sturmtrumper somehow magically makes it to the end of his full term without being impeached, jailed, or simply exploding in a stress-induced coronary, he won’t be reelected. The confluence of events that brought us this administration is not repeatable. Oh, worse things can certainly happen and a Pence Administration could even qualify as one depending on how it turns out, but at least Pence is wrong within normal parameters. He’s a normal politician of the far-right extremes these days, which means a) we’d survive him and b) he understands that preparing for 2020 is his job.
8. Plus, as the Vice President, der Sturmtrumper can’t fire him. This alone makes it worth his while to separate himself out from the oncoming train wreck so it doesn’t engulf him as well. There’s nothing der Sturmtrumper can do to Pence aside from isolate and attack him, which only works to Pence’s benefit. And then the Koch Brothers get the president they wanted anyway. Win/win for them. Not so much for the rest of us.
9. Time Magazine has an interactive quiz to see if you would qualify to emigrate to the United States under the draconian policies proposed by der Sturmtrumper. Now, I was born here. My ancestors have been here for generations. I have family who fought to preserve the Union during the Civil War and others who fought to defeat the Nazis in WWII. I have a PhD in American history specializing in the Founding Fathers so I do actually know what this country was founded upon, I have voted in every election since I turned 18, and I’ve been a taxpayer since the mid-1980s. And I would not be allowed into this country under those rules. The sheer smug assholery of such restrictions is a damning indictment of the patriotism of any American who supports them.
10. In case you thought you had any rights at all or that this was a democracy with an accountable government, you should take a good hard look at the workings of the committees der Sturmtrumper’s minions have put together to slash the regulations that keep the US safe. Oh, right! You can’t! A disturbing number of those appointed by der Sturmtrumper haven’t even had their names released! Because what business is it of yours, good citizen? Turn around, bend over, smile, lie back and think of New England – nothing to see here except the workings of an autocratic regime that doesn’t have any truck with the whole “democracy” nonsense. Of course, when you lose the popular vote by nearly three million ballots, this is perhaps understandable.
11. In case you think the GOP termites gnawing at the foundation of American society are limited to der Sturmtrumper, there is always Wisconsin to remind you that they’ve been here for a while. Thanks to Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries), there is now a teacher shortage in this state. And really, who saw that coming? Wisconsin teachers get paid less now than they did when Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) came to power in 2011, given the drastic cuts in benefits necessary to provide tax breaks to the already wealthy. Classes are larger, job security is less, the teachers’ unions have been gutted, and the Wisconsin GOP has spent almost a decade libeling the state’s teachers as welfare cheats and loafers while introducing legislation to prevent even local authorities from raising money to fund schools. Who needs an educated population, anyway?
12. Meanwhile down in Texas, where the heat warps the GOP mind into just the most fascinating shapes, the Texas GOP has slashed funding for family planning by nearly two-thirds since 2011. And, not surprisingly, teenage pregnancies spiked by 34%. Yeah, they’re a little hazy on this whole “cause and effect” thing down in the Lone Star State.
13. Terrorism Watch: on August 5, some Moral Leper threw a bomb into the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Minneapolis. Nobody was hurt, the but building was extensively damaged. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton – a Democrat who has reversed the supply-side, anti-education policies of the GOP and led his state to an economic prosperity that dwarfs the failed efforts of Wisconsin’s GOP poster boy – immediately condemned the bombing as “an act of terrorism” and promised serious action to find the Moral Lepers in question and prevent future such attacks. Minnesota Senator Al Franken – also a Democrat, strangely enough – told a crowd of citizens that this attack “was an attack on all of us” and would be treated as such. Meanwhile der Sturmtrumper, always quick with the gratuitously stupid tweet whenever it’s possible to blame terrorist attacks on Muslims, even in foreign countries, has said nothing about this act of terrorism on American soil, and Outright Nazi and White House Advisor Sebastian Gorka publicly declared the whole thing a false flag operation based on, well, nobody’s sure what that accusation is based on. Wishful thinking and hallucinogenic drugs, most likely. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between the two parties at the moment.
14. Bristol Palin apparently said that there is some kind of liberal plot to make conservatives look stupid. No, dear. Whatever passes for the left in this country couldn’t organize a two-car parade, let alone a plot of any significant scale. If you look stupid, chances are it’s your own doing.
15. Seriously, fuck Nazis.
16. There are any number of seriously fucked up things about der Sturmtrumper’s reaction to the recent domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, not least being the sheer incompetence of it. Here he had an opportunity to unite the country behind him by unequivocally condemning Nazis – FUCKING NAZIS, the same racist halfwits we spent four years shooting, back in my grandfather’s day – and he couldn’t even do that. 99% of Americans hate Nazis. It crosses party lines. It crosses regional lines. It crosses class, gender, orientation, occupational, and educational lines. Nobody likes Nazis, and you know why? BECAUSE THEY’RE FUCKING NAZIS, the lowest of the low, the cowards who hide behind a bullshit theory of biology thinking it gives them the right to celebrate and perpetuate atrocities. How hard would it have been to do the moral thing? How hard would it have been to do the politically astute thing, which for once was the same as the moral thing? Apparently too hard for der Sturmtrumper. I’ve gotten grief from some quarters for referring to the current occupant of the White House as “der Sturmtrumper,” but I think I have been proven right here.
17. Did you see that press conference? This man is unhinged.
18. Every one of the branches of the US military has taken the highly unusual – possibly even unprecedented – step of slapping der Sturmtrumper down over this. Every single one. He’s lost the military. He’s lost the business community, which recognizes at least that supporting Nazis is bad for business. You know who he hasn’t lost? The Dominionist blasphemers, the white supremacists, the Teabagger halfwits, and the rest of his base.
19. If I have to listen to one more Nazi apologist scream “fake news” or “the left is just as bad” or any other hallucinatory verbal excretions, I swear I will hire people to follow them around and laugh at them full time.
You either condemn these bastards or you sign on. There is no middle ground anymore. Either you are against the Nazis, or you are for them. And if you are for them, may God have mercy on your soul.
21. Meanwhile the rest of the world continues on its axis (pun fully intended). Kim Jong Un, the grownup in the room when it comes to meetings with der Sturmtrumper, has signaled his intent to back down from the recent frogmarch toward WWIII. This might be enough to keep der Sturmtrumper from blowing us all to hell as a way to make us forget the ever-tightening Russian noose (remember that? What a fine job of wagging the dog this week has been…). Of course the fact that President Bannon – another Nazi, remember – openly admitted that there is no military option when it comes to North Korea and we should just grow up and forget it might also help.
22. Robert Mueller continues his investigations and they do seem to be getting closer to paydirt. The recent raid on Paul Manafort’s house is further evidence that there is a whole lot of fire behind this smoke – you can’t get authorization for that kind of raid without convincing a judge that there was probable cause to suspect criminal activity. Kenneth Starr never had the basis for such a raid back in the 1990s, and neither did the special counsel investigating George W. Bush’s leak of a CIA operative’s identity. The case gets closer and closer to der Sturmtrumper, and his flailing and thrashing gets wilder and wilder.
23. That bastion of liberal left-wing thinking known as The Federalist – the same organization that wants to return to the Articles of Confederation because the US Constitution is just too modern – published a fascinating editorial headlined “Donald Trump Needs to Not Be President Yesterday.” “We’re done with the ‘Well, maybe it won’t be so bad and we should take what we can get’ phase of this administration,” the editorial opens. “It’s time for the ‘He’s a disaster and needs to go’ phase. For everybody’s good, Donald Trump needs to not be president, and he needs to not be president yesterday.” The editorial goes on to spend a good deal of time describing the utter moral debacle of der Sturmtrumper’s reaction to the Nazi march and terrorist attack in Charlottesville, and lament that fact that “Only Trump could take one of the most uncontroversial ideas in American politics, the Indiana Jones rule, and turn it into a wrenching national argument.” When you’re too right-wing for The Federalist, you have truly gone over the edge and into the abyss.
24. James Mattis, perhaps the sanest of the Cabinet members left in der Sturmtrumper’s government (granted, not saying much, but it is saying something at least) spent much of last week undermining der Sturmtrumper’s foreign policy by pointing out that American global leadership was hard won and has benefitted this country immensely and that only an idiot would throw that away in the name of some blinkered ideology. Not quite in those words, but anyone with a clue could read them between the lines of what he did say. At this point I suspect the only reason he still has a job is that der Sturmtrumper is not bright enough to figure out just how badly he is being cut here.
25. Did anyone catch the recent Chinese announcement that the “countdown to a clash” between China and India – two nuclear powers and the two most populous nations on Earth – “has begun”? I suspect Mattis has, though whether der Sturmtrumper even noticed is an open question. Interesting times we live in, right?
26. But her emails!
27. Of all the Republican politicians who have stepped forward to reject der Sturmtrumper’s open embrace of Nazism, perhaps the most eloquent and pointed has been Mitt Romney. And it is worth quoting in full:
I will dispense for now from discussion of the moral character of the president's Charlottesville statements. Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn't mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.
The leaders of our branches of military service have spoken immediately and forcefully, repudiating the implications of the president's words. Why? In part because the morale and commitment of our forces--made up and sustained by men and women of all races--could be in the balance. Our allies around the world are stunned and our enemies celebrate; America's ability to help secure a peaceful and prosperous world is diminished. And who would want to come to the aid of a country they perceive as racist if ever the need were to arise, as it did after 9/11?
In homes across the nation, children are asking their parents what this means. Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims are as much a part of America as whites and Protestants. But today they wonder. Where might this lead? To bitterness and tears, or perhaps to anger and violence?
The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis--who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat--and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.
This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children. They are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country.
28. This, folks, is what should be coming from every leader in this country, of every party. The unequivocal rejection of evil, the clear assignment of blame, the open challenge thrown down before a grotesque president to demonstrate what a real American leader would do, and the consequences to the nation if that challenge is not met. First Ted Cruz, now Mitt Romney – maybe there is hope for the GOP in the long run after all.
29. And more Republicans – people I disagree with on almost every major political issue – have stepped forward to do the right thing and condemn der Sturmtrumper and the Nazis he supports. Marco Rubio said, “Mr. President, you can’t allow white supremacists to share only part of the blame. They support [an] idea which cost [the] nation & world so much pain.” John McCain noted that “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate & bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.” Even Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, while refusing to take the full moral stand and condemn der Sturmtrumper explicitly, did at least move clearly in that direction. Ryan said, “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity,” while McConnell said, “There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.” Even Bob Corker – one of the leading candidates for Mike Pence’s current job last summer – took the time to criticize der Sturmtrumper’s nonsensical response to the Nazi violence, pointing out that der Sturmtrumper “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. … He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today.” Not the strong clear denunciation of evil that is needed, but at least in the right direction. Hope? Maybe.
30. Of course, that hope rests on der Sturmtrumper either doing the right thing (which would be largely unprecedented) or being shoved aside as both president and party leader. Given the army of bigots, trolls, racists, Nazis, theocrats, and subversives who continue to support der Sturmtrumper and who have been welcomed into the GOP as a key part of their base these last couple of decades, that is a slim hope indeed.
31. Remember, folks. The origins of the modern GOP (i.e. not the Party of Lincoln – the GOP is no more the Party of Lincoln than the Democrats are the Party of Jefferson. Those founders died a long time ago and their parties have changed beyond recognition, often several times, since then) stretch back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law split both parties, and Nixon’s Southern Strategy made sure that the racists and demagogues who opposed that law moved over from the Democrats (who had opposed civil rights for blacks in the 1860s) to Republicans (who apparently were supposed to oppose those same rights in the 1960s, despite the crucial support given to the Civil Rights Act by moderate Republicans in 1964). Everything else follows from that. It’s no accident that the policies endorsed by the GOP since then have disproportionately harmed non-whites and it is no accident that the Nazis and white supremacists find a comfortable home in the modern GOP. Changing that will be painful, difficult work, and whether the GOP has the spine or the stomach for it is an open question.
32. And the world looks on in horror at der Sturmtrumper. “I see no equivalence between those who propound Fascist views and those who oppose them,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May. “I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far right views whenever we hear them.” Heiko Maas, the Justice Minister in Germany (where they know a thing or two about Nazis) noted that “Trump’s trivializing reaction to Charlottesville is unbearable. That was anti-Semitism and racism.” Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, said, “One must denounce Nazis definitively. What Trump is doing is inflammatory. Whoever trivializes violence & hate betrays western values.” British MP Sajid Javid was fairly clear as well: “Neo-Nazis: bad. Anti-Nazis: good. I learned that as a child. It was pretty obvious.” Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, was even more clear: “The President of the United States has just turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame.” Not surprisingly, the chorus of horror coming from Israel – where they also know a few things about Nazis – has been deafening. Israeli legislator Tamar Zandberg was blunt: “Racism and hatred and opposition to racism and hatred are not two sides of the same coin, and the attempt to draw this symmetry gives legitimacy to dark and evil forces that should not have a place in the public discussion. The stubborn denial of President Trump to denounce neo-Nazis and racists and his flattery of organizations that promote these frightening and unacceptable worldviews … raise serious questions regarding the motivation and the moral consciousness of he who is supposed to be the leader of the free world and the protector of democracy.” For fuck sake, even IRAN thought Trump was going too far in his support of the Nazis. When you can get Israel and Iran on the same side against you, maybe you ought to be rethinking your life choices.
33. Can we stop with the crocodile tears about removing the Confederate statues? They’re not there to celebrate history. They’re there to celebrate white supremacy. As Maryland Governor Larry Hogan noted, “The time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history.” Folks, the people who were trying to rewrite history were the ones who put the statues up in the first place, and for that reason alone they should be removed. I see no reason to glorify traitors, and no reason why anyone who does should call themselves a patriotic American.
34. Plus, as Jamil Smith noted, “All these folks worried about erasing history when the Confederate statues come down will be thrilled to learn about the existence of books.” That is, of course, if such folks actually read books.
35. And now President Bannon is gone. Who can keep up with all this? I wonder if he will take up the leisure activity that Mooch ascribed to him. There are people who’d pay money to see that, I’m sure.
36. This does leave open the question as to just who is the president now, since it is fairly clear that der Sturmtrumper doesn’t have much interest in the job. It’s just a question of when he leaves and whether he does so of his own volition or whether he is removed through any of the Constitutional methods the nation has at its disposal for its own defense. As Frank Bruni noted in the New York Times, “Trump resigned the presidency already – if we regard the job as one of moral stewardship, if we assume that an iota of civic concern must joust with self-regard, if we expect a president’s interest in legislation to rise above vacuous theatrics, if we consider a certain baseline of diplomatic etiquette to be part of the equation. By those measures it’s arguable that Trump’s presidency never really began. By those measures it’s indisputable that his presidency ended in the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday afternoon, when he chose – yes, CHOSE – to litigate rather than lead, to attend to his wounded pride instead of his wounded nation and to debate the supposed fine points of white supremacy. He abdicated his responsibilities so thoroughly and recklessly that it amounted to a letter of resignation. Then he whored for his Virginia winery on the way out the door.”
37. This is what you voted for, Trump voters. None of this is any surprise. People shouted warnings about all of this – from the criminality to the white supremacy to the sheer incompetence – from every available platform last year, and you said, “That’s okay with me.” Congratulations. You are the company you keep. And if you think the rest of us are going to forget that anytime soon, you can think again.