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. Der Sturmtrumper cycles through stories faster than he cycles through lawyers. Ty Cobb – he of the early-20th-century name and late-19th-century mustache – has gone the way of most folks in this woebegotten administration and has been replaced by, of all people, Rudy Giuliani. Then Giuliani went on television and essentially destroyed der Sturmtrumper’s stories regarding several different legal messes. He confirmed that he was the one who leaked the questions that other Sturmtrumper lawyers wrote based on Mueller’s enquiries, and he admitted flat out that this was an effort to slander Mueller. He stated unequivocally that the reason der Sturmtrumper fired James Comey was to obstruct justice, though his explanation is now the third different one offered by that camp. And he said that yes, in fact, der Sturmtrumper had paid off Stormy Daniels – that Michael Cohen did not do that out of the goodness of his heart and on his own dime, a story that had never passed the laugh test – and that this was “funneled” through a law firm to avoid campaign finance laws. So, money laundering in other words. FFS, even Laura Ingraham, a right-wing extremist if there ever was one, thought Giuliani screwed the pooch on this interview.
2. One from the Captain Obvious files: former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Tom Price – whose tenure went about as well as everyone else’s in the current administration – has now admitted publicly that the GOP slash and burn attack on the Affordable Care Act will in fact raise premiums for Americans who want health insurance, just as the CBO said it would. This contradicts what Price said last summer, of course, but he’s no longer on der Sturmtrumper’s payroll so perhaps he can skip the toadying now and admit what everyone else already knows.
3. Here in the hinterlands, we have Teh Crazy coming out of our ears. Wisconsin GOP state senatorial candidate Kevin Nicholson apparently thinks that military veterans are obligated to be conservatives and that any who aren’t are simply insane. “I question their cognitive thought process,” is how he put it, as if there were any other kind of thought process. He also thinks that the Democratic Party has “wholesale rejected the Constitution and the values that it was founded upon.” Speaking as someone who literally has a PhD in the political thought of the Founding Fathers and who studies the Constitution for a living, I get really tired of idiots like Nicholson, to be honest. If any party has rejected the Constitution it is the modern GOP – a relatively recent development, actually. I thought Reagan was a disastrous president at the time and most of the evidence that has come to light since then bears this out, but he wasn’t a threat to the republic. Even George W. Bush was within the normal bounds of American politics (though Cheney skirted them a bit too close for comfort). But not now. To support a wannabe Fascist like der Sturmtrumper over the Constitution is the essence of the GOP today and veterans who have sworn to uphold the Constitution really have nowhere else to go but the Democrats, sadly enough. I miss having a grown-up conservative party.
4. It has been once again drawn to my attention that my repeated statement that this country used to give out medals to people who shot Nazis and we called those people The Greatest Generation could be misinterpreted. I thought I was clear enough, but I guess not. I have already responded to this in detail but let me try once again. I do NOT advocate that we sink to the level of bestial evil that the Nazis embody and just randomly start shooting them on principle. The whole point of life is to be superior to the Nazis. Admittedly this is a low bar, and one that far too many people are failing in spectacular ways these days. But there it is.
I am simply reporting the historical fact that we used to recognize evil when we saw it and we treated it accordingly, and the world was objectively a better place for it. We did not say that there were “fine people” on the Nazi side, because that simply is not and can never be true, by definition. We did not tolerate them as social or moral equals. We recognized their ethical deformities and we cast them from civilized society.
I advocate that we go back to treating Nazis that way, immediately and without exception, including every misbegotten waste of oxygen who sympathizes with Nazism in any form. We should stigmatize them, belittle them, hold them in the deepest contempt, and make them understand that there is no place for them in America or any part of the civilized world. You cannot be a good American and a Nazi – hell, you cannot be a good human being and a Nazi. There was a war about that. The whole world was there. For anyone to suggest otherwise is a clear sign that they have no place in civilized society and should be treated accordingly.
5. “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war let it begin here.” (Capt. John Parker, April 19, 1775, Lexington MA)
6. Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny that Melania’s parents visited the US Citizenship Office while der Sturmtrumper ramps up his attack on “chain migration”? Maybe it's just me.
7. Who says the New York Times doesn’t have a sense of humor? Take this lead paragraph from an article on der Sturmtrumper’s idiotic social agenda:
The administration of Donald Trump — who had a child out of wedlock after cheating on his first wife, and is in a legal battle with a porn star who says she had sex with him not long after his third wife gave birth — is promoting abstinence with a zeal perhaps never before seen from the federal government.
Because when people are told not to have sex, of course they listen! Right? Hello? Is this thing on?
8. A new study in Political Research Quarterly notes the obvious: the two biggest trends in American religion over the last 50 years (the rise of the “religious” Right and the skyrocketing growth of atheism, agnosticism, and the general unchurched in America) are deeply connected. As religion becomes nothing more than another tin-horn political lobbying group, people will turn away. Theocracy breeds contempt, yes it does.
9. So Melania’s new booklet on internet safety for kids is more or less lifted straight from a 2014 booklet released by the FTC under the Obama Administration. Given the RNC talk she gave in 2016 that was in part plagiarized from Michelle Obama, one wonders just how much of a thing she has for the Obamas and what it will take for her to go all in on it.
10. Meet the new president of the NRA. He’s not doing too bad for a guy who should have rotted away in jail long ago.
11. “A cashiered colonel who is hailed by the right as some kind of American patriot hero despite the fact that he illegally sold guns to our avowed enemies in order to finance an illegal war for a mentally ill president in defiance of Congress, the law, and the express will of the American public, and who then sold out that president in exchange for immunity and then went on to become a right-wing pundit who trades in conspiracy theories elected to head the NRA is quite possibly the most NRA thing the NRA has ever done.” (Jim Wright)
12. Remember a couple years back, when the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address saw LA Governor Bobby Jindal mock the federal government for spending money on stupid things like monitoring volcanos? Yeah, good times. Maybe Jindal can go to Hawaii and explain his party’s position more clearly while standing in front of the lava flow.
13. Der Sturmtrumper and the GOP are now working to bring back the Gilded Age even more by getting rid of child labor laws by repealing the Hazardous Occupations Orders, because nothing says MAGA like children being killed in factories. Family values in action!
14. Leonard Pitts has had it with people telling him that he should try to reach out and understand der Sturmtrumper’s supporters, and he’s absolutely right to be fed up.
The idea that we must “understand” those folks carries with it an implicit suggestion that in so doing, we might find some ground for compromise. It would be a great idea in normal times. But again, these times are not normal.
No compromise is possible here for a simple reason Trump followers seem to understand better than the rest of us: You can’t compromise with demography, can’t order numbers to stop being what they are and saying what they say about the coming tide of change. But what you can do is seize the levers of power and change the rules of the game in hopes of blunting the force of that tide. That — again, look at the studies — is what Trump supporters elected him to do.
So while, it is admirable to think “understanding” can fix this country, it is also naive. Progressives should ask themselves: When’s the last time you heard any Trump supporters talking about the need to understand you? You haven’t — and that ought to tell you something. [Emphasis added]
15. In what the vast majority of foreign policy experts around the world are calling his most insanely stupid move yet – quite an achievement, in a twisted sort of way – der Sturmtrumper has made good on his threat to violate the nuclear deal with Iran, leaving the United States in the position of being without allies, rationale, or defensible explanation for such an idiotic move. The Iranian deal was, by every account not actually written by the GOP, working exactly as advertised, making the world in general and the Middle East in particular a safer and more secure place. But when your view of the world ends at your own dick and your administration is staffed with people who think “Make shit go boom!” is a viable foreign policy, that kind of thing is a threat that has to be eliminated. This goes doubly true when the Black Guy was the one who signed off on the deal in the first place, as neither der Sturmtrumper nor his minions will tolerate solid achievements coming from someone of that hue.
James Dobbins, former US ambassador to the EU and now working for the RAND Corporation, flatly declared that this “isolates the United States, frees Iran, reneges on an American commitment, adds to the risk of trade war with America’s allies and to a hot war with Iran and diminishes the prospect of a durable and truly verifiable agreement to eliminate the North Korean nuclear and missile threat.”
Every American and European company that did business with Iran under that framework now faces immense losses – up to $20,000,000,000.00 for Boeing alone – and political pressure that other sovereign nations are not likely to tolerate. It will split the US and its European allies at a time when cooperation is crucial, especially if der Sturmtrumper goes through with his comically stupid threat to impose sanctions on our European allies for following an agreement that we set up and then abandoned in a juvenile political snit. “We’re playing into Putin’s hand,” said Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia. “For Putin, it means that the US is on the outside, and Putin is still on the inside.”
This is, of course, a plus for Putin’s Puppet.
16. Speaking of Putin’s Puppet, in a move straight out of the Soviet Union der Sturmtrumper explicitly defined “Fake News” as anything negative said about him and threatened to suppress any news outlet that does so. The next day his spokesbot Sarah “Huckabee” Sanders explicitly refused to say whether der Sturmtrumper’s regime wouldn’t ban any news outlet that displeased him. Remind me why the GOP shouts so much about freedom again? A more Orwellian bunch you’ll never see.
17. Wondering when der Sturmtrumper’s administration would find the moral rock bottom? We have a candidate for your consideration: White House Communication Aide Kelly Sadler, on being told that Senator John McCain opposed Torturer Gina Haspel’s nomination for CIA Director, responded with “he’s dying anyway.” Sadler said it was a joke, but really – that’s always the standard defense offered by the morally crippled when they’re caught out in public saying things that other people tell them they should have kept to themselves. This came on the same day that Fox “News” mouthpiece Thomas McInerney justified torture by saying that “It worked on John [McCain]. That’s why they called him ‘Songbird John.’” Uh, no, it didn’t and they didn’t.
Even other Republicans have noticed that this is pretty much bottom of the slime barrel stuff. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) called Sadler’s joke “outrageous and unacceptable. It’s a sad day in this country when White House officials are mocking a man who was tortured as a prisoner of war.” Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) simply said “There are no words,” but oh, Jeff, there are – unacceptable, immoral, disrespectful, and grounds for removal come to mind. Hell, even Joni Ernst – the poster child for right-wing crazy in the midwest – was angry about it.
The best comment came from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), though. Addressing Sadler directly, he asked “Is part of being low and small that it’s irresistible to show just how low and small you are?” Apparently so.
18. No wonder McCain doesn’t want der Sturmtrumper anywhere near his funeral. Fuck that.
19. Continuing to erase the line between the modern GOP and the Nazis, we come to Massachusetts GOP candidate for governor Scott Lively. Lively is the guy who wrote an entire book blaming the Holocaust (which at least he seems to understand actually happened – how low the bar is, these days) on “militaristic” gay Nazis, a proposition that becomes even more ludicrous when you realize that homosexuals were one of the groups explicitly targeted by the Nazis for the Holocaust, much like some other modern American political party targets them for (currently) somewhat less extreme oppression. He also runs a “religious” organization that is officially listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such things. And this loser got more than 30% of the votes from the MA Republican Party Convention – more than double the number required to get onto the ballot for the fall. This is your base, GOP. Own it, and do something about it.
20. Before the Great Recession of 2008, Minnesota and Wisconsin had similar job and wage growth patterns. After the Great Recession, the states went their own way – Minnesota elected a Democrat who applied demand side economic policies to the consumer economy there, while Wisconsin elected a Republican who was the leading edge of the fear-driven supply-side catastrophe now being played out at the national level, demonizing unions, cutting taxes for the wealthy while letting everyone else fend for themselves, gutting education, and generally behaving as white-collar vandals. And the results are in. A study from the Economic Policy Institute notes that “On virtually every metric, workers and families in Minnesota are better off than their counterparts in Wisconsin – and the decisions of state lawmakers have been instrumental in driving many of those differences.” Minnesotans have better results when it comes to jobs, wages, health insurance, poverty, and a great many other measures of quality of life that were roughly equal before the GOP got hold of the Dairy State. And yet the GOP insists that their way is the only way because what else can they do?
21. Looking at the numbers, seven years of Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) has indeed taken its toll, yes it has. A few statistics: Wisconsin is 32nd in job growth among US states, down from 29th last year. We haven’t been higher than 27th (i.e. still in the bottom half) in more than four years. We’re #1 for the acceleration of opioid ER admissions – impressive for a state whose governor thinks we’re flush enough to refuse to participate in the ACA. We’re #1 in small farm bankruptcies, #2 in worst-repaired roads, #12 in polluted wells, and dead last in the US in entrepreneurial activity. We’re 44th on “brain gain,” with only six other states attracting fewer new residents with college degrees, which is perhaps not surprising since we’re now on the Top Ten States for people moving out – something that was not true last year. Meanwhile we’re leading the nation in government handouts to corporations and environmental exemptions given to corporations. Wisconsin: MAGA even before der Sturmtrumper!
22. Boy the hits keep coming for Michael Cohen, don’t they? Apparently Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin (and there’s a redundant phrase if there ever was one), put about half a million dollars into a shell company created by Cohen for what appears to be the sole purpose of making payments such as the one to Stormy Daniels. This all by itself means that the Russians have significant leverage over der Sturmtrumper and can, anytime they wish, force him to dance to their tune – which they seem to have done quite often since the inauguration, probably on the theory that this particular asset is likely to be burned soon and they should get their money’s worth. Poor Julius and Ethel Rosenberg – born sixty years too soon.
23. How bad are things for the GOP when Mitt Romney – the man who spent all of 2012 running against his own health care program – is the guy showing a bit of actual spine these days? Der Sturmtrumper’s new American embassy opened in Jerusalem not that long ago (and don’t even get me started on the epic stupidity and arrogance of that) and for some reason there was a “minister” there to give some kind of blessing. Except that Robert Jeffris is not only a big Sturmtrumper guy, he’s also the guy who called Islam a cult, “a religion that promotes pedophilia,” and a “heresy from the pit of hell,” which should go over well in that part of the world. He declared that “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,” which should endear him to whomever is still speaking to him in that part of the world after the Muslims are done with him. And he called Mormons a “cult” as well. “Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem,” Romney replied. Hey – better a late spine than no spine, though I’ll hold my judgment until I see some action.
24. Is there anyone in the world surprised that the opening of that embassy touched off bloodshed? Anyone? More than five dozen Palestinians died because der Sturmtrumper unnecessarily shifted the US embassy to score points with his bigoted fundamentalist base. Later, Nikki Haley – supposedly one of the adults in der Sturmtrumper’s administration – walked out of a UN Security Council meeting rather than listen to the Palestinian envoy speak. How this toddler-level conduct enhances the American position in the world is an interesting question.
25. Missouri Governor Eric Greitans is a piece of work, yes he is. The GOP star – a “good friend” of Toady Pence, according to Pence himself – has a list of indictments that would impress the most jaded partisan hack: campaign finance violations, felony violations of privacy, kidnapping, blackmail, coercing sexual behavior (which sounds so, so much nicer than rape), and so on. He naturally refuses to resign and seems not to think anything is untoward here, and as a Republican maybe it’s just the company he keeps. Bill Haslam, the GOP governor of Tennessee, certainly doesn’t seem to think this is a problem. Why should Greitans resign, after all – it’s “up to Eric and his family and the people to decide. I don’t think they need us other governors telling him what to do.” A clearer moral abdication you will never see. You know, Democrats get scum in their party too, but they hold them accountable and get rid of them. For Republicans it seems to be a selling point, though in their defense the Missouri legislature is moving toward impeachment in a reasonably bipartisan way.
26. And out in Oklahoma, the GOP is finally being honest about its plans for the social welfare system. GOP gubernatorial candidate Christopher Barnett’s campaign Facebook page, responding to someone who pointed out that many receiving food stamps are disabled or elderly, fired back by asking “The ones who are disabled and can’t work … why are we required to keep them? Sorry, but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to Government.” The administrator of the page has since defended his comments, asking why taxpayers should “have to keep up people who cannot contribute to society any longer?” I don’t know – morality? Enlightened self-interest? Civilization? I realize that none of these things apply to the modern GOP and haven’t for some time now, but it’s kind of bizarre that they feel comfortable saying all that openly now instead of dog-whistling it.
We need to make morally bankrupt people ashamed again.
27. A study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services – a federal agency, so your tax dollars paid for this study – concluded that water supplies across a wide range of the United States were contaminated with dangerous levels of toxic chemicals known as fluorinated organic chemicals. And rather than release this publicly funded study to the public so that the public could perhaps take appropriate action, der Sturmtrumper’s administration has actively worked to suppress it on the grounds that it would create a “public relations nightmare.” So it’s more important that der Sturmtrumper look good than it is for American citizens not to be poisoned. Your “party of values” at work, good citizen.
28. “These aren’t people. These are animals.” (Der Sturmtrumper on undocumented immigrants). First you call them animals, then you strip them of their human rights, then you round them up into camps, then you gas them. Isn’t that how it works? And the line between Nazis and Republicans gets thinner, thinner, thinner by the day.
29. Knowing full well that they cannot win a fair election, the Wisconsin GOP has doubled down on voter suppression (which, admittedly, worked like a charm for them in 2016 according to some fairly thorough statistical analysis). In their 2018 state convention, they passed a resolution putting even more roadblocks in front of legitimate voters – ending same-day registration and requiring college students to vote in their home districts rather than where they actually live. You can always tell a party that thinks it can win on the strength of its ideas from a party that knows it can’t win such an election – strong parties welcome voters and weak ones shut them out.
30. Maybe Toady Pence is actually plotting against his boss. The New York Times reports that Sturmtrumper officials are growing increasingly angry at Toady’s efforts to take control of the GOP, something that der Sturmtrumper himself seems uninterested in doing. On the one hand, having a reasonably sane (if morally repugnant) leader in control of the GOP might be a slight improvement. On the other hand, well, having the GOP fall apart into warring factions and disappear in a golden blaze of failure would be a tremendous improvement. So this is pretty much win/win, really.
31. The Senate Intelligence Committee (the one with the Republican majority, like all of them these days) has concluded that Russia did in fact meddle with the American election in 2016 with the specific intent of helping der Sturmtrumper win. With the GOP increasingly on board with the obvious, perhaps something might be done about this noxious regime.
32. Here comes the consequences of last year’s Great Legislative Achievement from the gang that couldn’t caucus straight: now that the Reverse Robin Hood Tax Plan is starting to increase its stranglehold on the federal government’s finances, the GOP is merrily capering down its path of wanton cruelty. “Oh noes!” they cry. “We haz no munny! Better let the kids die!” Which is why they’ve decided that it’s more important to give away more than trillion dollars to the already wealthy than fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health insurance to more than nine million American children. But family values, right?
33. Also on the chopping block: after school programs. Seriously – it’s like the GOP has a list of “Everything That Makes the United States a Better Place” and is working to destroy the entire list one item at a time.
34. Speaking of wanton cruelty, the new GOP plan is to steal children from undocumented immigrant families and warehouse them in military bases, because nothing says “family values” like destroying the families of people you hate.
35. Apparently torture is the path to leadership in this administration. Good to know. We used to execute torturers, and now we promote them. You need a shower after reading about these people.
36. What is it about der Sturmtrumper’s minions that they suddenly locate their spines after leaving his service? The latest on this list is Exxon’s Own Secretary of State Tillerson, who went out of his way in his commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute to criticize the leader he once served. “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as a people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom,” he said. “If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector – and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector – then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.” Indeed, yes. Would have been nice to hear him say that when it mattered, but I suppose better late than never.
37. As a historian, I get really tired of people who cannot grasp the concept that political parties evolve over time.
The modern GOP is not the Party of Lincoln. It’s not the Party of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s not the Party of Eisenhower. Hell, it’s not even the Party of Reagan anymore.
38. And here we go again, with yet another shooting massacre at a school here in MURCA. And in Texas, where there are SO MANY GODDAMNED GUNS that if the NRA’s favorite talking point had any merit whatsoever there should never be a crime of any description ever again. The usual assholes are out in force less than 24 hours after, with the blood still wet on the ground. They shout about MORE GUNZGUNZGUNZGUNZGUNZ trying to compensate for their pathetic little lives by sacrificing others. They shout about victims being “crisis actors” because God forbid their hermetically sealed little bubble be pierced with actual information, or actual morality, or actual humanity. They talk in ever-narrowing circles until they disappear up their own lower intestines. Fuck them. Fuck them sideways. Fuck them harder and keep fucking them until they have gone so far into fucking that they come all the way around back to where they started. And then fuck them again.
This country is drunk on guns, and until it grows the hell up and learns how to stop being such fucking cowards and put the Compensators away it will never be sober.
39. Remember, folks: if ANY part of your reaction to a shooting massacre is to defend the gun, you have serious moral problems that are beyond my ability to help you with.
40. Did you know that as of today more American school children have been killed at schools than American service members have been killed in the military? More than twice as many, actually – 29 schoolkids versus 13 military personnel. This is not normal. This is not acceptable. This cannot stand.
41. Is there anyone surprised that the criminal responsible for the recent slaughter of the innocent was a white male with Nazi sympathies? Anyone? Bueller?
42. In case you’re wondering about the substandard thought processes of those who defend firearms, here’s a good example. Remember, folks – this person probably voted in the last election. Explains a lot.
43. Speaking of guns and their blasphemous worshippers, the Senate Judiciary Committee (controlled by Republicans, remember) is now publicly saying that the NRA was a Russian tool during the 2016 presidential election. According to their official release, “The Committee has obtained a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign. … The Kremlin may also have used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign.” So when you hear the ammosexuals talk about how patriotic they are, remember that.
44. Meanwhile the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released in January 2017 a declassified version of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. It states for the record that “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” They did so through “covert intelligence operations – such as cyber activity” and “overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’” In particular, the GRU (Russian military intelligence) was the player behind the Wikipedia links, and Russian intelligence compromised multiple state elections. This kind of assault on a fundamental part of the American government – the election process – by a foreign power fits the definition of an act of war according to international IT security experts. Given that der Sturmtrumper’s contacts with Russian agents and provocateurs continue to come to light with disturbing regularity, it would be worth considering whether his actions rise to the level of treason – a crime defined very specifically in the Constitution and not just “shit I personally do not approve of” the way most people use the term. I’m guessing the gap between that definition and der Sturmtrumper’s actions is getting narrower and narrower with each new revelation. Will it close completely? Maybe. We'll see.
45. Just going to leave this here.