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. Every time I sit down to write these lists I think to myself, “I am so damned tired of politics right now and I would very much like to stop thinking about it.” And you know, I could. I have that privilege. I am a straight white middle-class man who is very much not the target of any particular hate group at the moment (unless you count the fact that I am educated and work at a university, which both seem to raise the ire of the ignorant). I could sit this out. But that really isn’t how things work. From those to whom much has been given, much is expected. I am awash in unearned privilege. It has served me well, and so I stand and shout because there are too many people in this country who don’t have the privilege of being able to ignore what is happening to the American republic and who don’t have the opportunity to shout. I have no illusions as to the world-changing nature of blog posts, but it is important to do what you can, when you can.
2. I can’t be the only person who was both amused and horrified by the recent story in Business Insider that documented the heroic efforts of der Sturmtrumper’s staff to provide their boss with the kind of basic information about world events, national security, and public policy that any semi-competent Congressional intern already knows. On the one hand, I’m glad they’re doing it, and I hope it has some impact beyond making everyone involved just that much older. On the other hand, you’d think a President would come into the office knowing these things. But then you’d be wrong.
3. Der Sturmtrumper’s performance at the UN was yet another international disgrace and would likely cause him political problems if it weren’t for the fact that his political base has no idea what the UN is or why it matters and probably doesn’t care very much about the fact that the rest of the world now regards the US as something of a cross between a laughingstock and a heavily-armed drug addict. You know, folks, there are more people outside of the US than in, and eventually they will decide that they don’t need us anymore. And when that happens, there will be precious little we can do about it.
4. It looks like the most recent iteration of Republicare is also likely to go down in flames [EDIT: and, indeed, it did], and really it couldn’t have happened to a more appropriate bill. By all accounts it is even more pointlessly cruel, politically untenable, structurally unsound, and poorly reasoned than the previous ones, which is probably why it was put together in secret and scheduled for a grand total of 90 seconds’ worth of consideration before a vote would be taken. They know very well this cockroach of a bill couldn’t survive the light of day – hell, most REPUBLICANS don’t like it – but then the modern GOP really isn’t about democracy or public service in any meaningful way and hasn’t been for more than two decades. They weren’t even pretending. The senators who said they were going to vote for this abomination unto the American people basically said that they knew that it was a horrifyingly bad bill that the overwhelming majority of American citizens wanted nothing to do with but their donors wanted it and the rich deserve the tax break and fuck you that’s why, and they were refreshingly honest about it.
5. The fact that this bill was opposed by every single professional medical organization, hospital association, and insurance organization in America – seriously, if you haven’t read the joint statement released by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the BlueCross BlueShield Association, you need to do so now, as it is a masterpiece of bureaucratic knife-fighting – did surprisingly little to dissuade the Republicare warriors that their chosen method of declaring war on US citizens was perhaps immoral, unwise, poor business, and generally the opposite of what intelligent human beings would even consider let alone actually enact. Nor did it seem strange to the backers of this bill that the only way they could gain the support of wavering senators was to promise not to have the bill apply to their states. In this way it reminded me of the suicide squad in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which was trained to infiltrate the enemy base and then, with startling efficiency, commit suicide. Have at it, boys.
6. Seriously, I question the patriotism of anyone who could support such a rabidly anti-American bill.
7. The Russian noose continues to tighten, as it becomes more and more clear that Robert Mueller is going to follow the strands of corruption and impeachable offense as far as he needs to follow them. He’s pretty close to breaking Manafort (currently the subject of a FISA warrant, which is not something one obtains lightly) and one suspects that Flynn won’t be too far off. Look for der Sturmtrumper to make ever wilder and more dangerous moves to distract from this as the rope burns get fiercer.
8. Such as, oh, getting involved in a pointless war with a nuclear power over what is essentially a middle-school name-calling contest. Remember when it was North Korea that was run by the unstable and immature psychopath? Good times, man.
9. And in the middle of all this, der Sturmtrumper decides that the most pressing problem facing the United States is the peaceful exercise of 1st Amendment rights to political protest by professional athletes. The level of stupidity that it would take to see this as a problem in the first place is utterly staggering, and for the President of the United States to make it the subject of yet another of his shitstorm Twitter ragefests is compelling evidence of mental disorder.
10. Just to point out a few things: The proper treatment of the US flag is covered in federal law under 36 US Code, Chapter 10. Section 171 of that part of US code does not require any particular behavior during the national anthem. It says that anyone not in uniform “should” stand at attention, face the flag, and place their hands over their hearts, but this is not required and therefore by definition any protest that takes the form of people not so standing is by definition legal. To treat it as a crime is therefore overstepping the bounds of the law. Furthermore, the US Supreme Court [West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette, 319 US 624 (1943)] explicitly ruled that nobody can be forced to take part in patriotic displays, on not only Constitutional grounds but also on the rather commonsense grounds that forced patriotism is not patriotism but authoritarianism. As for the flag, 36 US Code, Chapter 10, Section 176 specifically deals with “Respect for [the] flag,” and lists several ways the flag can be disrespected – none of which include people kneeling during the national anthem. Subsection (c) notes that the flag should never be displayed horizontally (as it is before football games when giant flags are stretched out across the field). Subsection (d) says the flag should never be used as apparel, bedding, or drapery – so all those “patriotic” shirts, bathing suits, sheets, and so on? Disrespectful. Subsection (i) notes that the flag “should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever,” which pretty much rules out all those Fourth of July ads you see every year. It also declares to be disrespectful any use of the flag on paper napkins or “anything that is designed for temporary use,” so you might want to rethink those picnic supplies next year. Subsection (j) says that you can’t use the flag as a costume or athletic uniform.
11. Also, in case you’re wondering, 36 US Code, Chapter 10, Section 176, Subsection (k) specifically says that a flag that is too worn out for display should be destroyed, “preferably by burning.” So all of you who think that flag-burning is such an insult? You’re on the wrong side of federal law and you’re the ones disrespecting the flag. Irony’s a bitch.
12. Another thing that might be of interest to discerning Americans is the fact that der Sturmtrumper’s demand that the NFL “fire” any protesting player is a clear violation of 18 US Code Part 1, Chapter 11, Section 227, which also states that any violator “may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.” So add that to the list of impeachable offenses, I guess. It’s getting long.
13. Hint: nobody who displays a Confederate flag on their person, vehicle, or social media has any right whatsoever to criticize anyone else about their patriotism or their respect for the American flag, anthem, or veterans.
14. When you get into a political argument with someone who is willing to use their spouse’s death as a club to beat you over the head with, there really isn’t much point to responding.
15. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is once again pointing out the severity of the Russian assault on American democracy, noting that Russian interference in 2016 was enough to cast doubt on the legitimacy of der Sturmtrumper’s victory. Think about that, folks. It is possible, even likely, that American democracy has been suborned by a hostile foreign power, and an entire political party has no problem with that because they won.
16. The US Department of Homeland Security has notified 21 states that their election systems were the targets of Russian hacking last year. Wisconsin naturally chose to cut six jobs from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which is charged with overseeing the security of its election system. But surely that’s just a coincidence, right?
17. In keeping with the general lawlessness of the modern GOP, one of der Sturmtrumper’s closest advisors – Roger Stone – is now publicly warning Americans that if Congress were to follow the law and Constitution and impeach der Sturmtrumper for his many and varied crimes, there would be “an insurrection like you’ve never seen,” and that any politician who voted to hold der Sturmtrumper accountable “would be endangering their own life.” Yeah, that’s going to help. Thanks.
18. So der Sturmtrumper’s son-in-law – you know, the one he’s been farming out pretty much every federal initiative short of an actual land invasion of a Third World country to be named later – has been using a private email server to conduct government business, and if you think the same chuckleheads who have been shouting “Lock her up!” at Hillary Clinton for her emails are going to give a damn when it’s one of their own then you haven’t been paying attention. Remember the Republican Standard: rules are for other people.
19. But wait! There’s more! According to the New York Times, not only has Jared Kushner been using a private email server for federal business, but so too were Steve Bannon, Reince (No, Really, That’s His Name) Priebus, Gary Cohen, Stephen Miller, and, perhaps not surprisingly, Ivanka Trump as well. Seriously – rules are for other people, not Republicans.
20. No, I don’t think any of that was criminal. Sloppy as hell, and unprofessional – which pretty much describes the Sturmtrumper administration completely, when you think about it. But then I didn’t think it was criminal when Hillary did it either, and – the real point here – they did. It’s the rank hypocrisy of it, much the way you can set your watch by the revelations that the most viciously homophobic GOP legislators (almost always male, strangely enough) are so often arrested with underage boys. Rules, &c.
21. So der Sturmtrumper has decided that a third try at his Muslim Ban is just what we need now. Naturally he did this on a Sunday night, without any noticeable discussion or press, after a full day of shit-stirring about useless issues designed to rile up his base (**cough**cough**NFL anthems**cough**cough). Because I suppose he thinks we’re too limited to notice two things at once? Maybe he is, but I’m not. This is just as much of a dipshit idea as it was before, only now he doesn’t even have the excuse of ignorance, having had the first two slapped down fairly abruptly.
22. Acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg is now planning to resign, because he has concluded that der Sturmtrumper has no respect for the law. To which the rest of us say, “well, yeah.”
23. In the wake of the total devastation of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, der Sturmtrumper has pointedly refused to waive shipping restrictions that limit trade between coasts of the US to US-flagged ships and allow food, fuel and supplies to reach the island on any available ship, regardless of flag. While the Jones Act has been temporarily waived to help Houston and Florida after their hurricanes, the poor, brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking people of Puerto Rico just don’t rate, I suppose. [EDIT: Apparently somebody must have told the GOP that Puerto Ricans are actually American citizens and therefore have the right to sue in American courts, because suddenly all of the criticism of their intransigence actually seemed to matter and they’ve lifted the Jones Act for Puerto Rico. How much praise one should give people for being publicly shamed into doing what they should have done automatically because it is the right and moral thing to do is an interesting question. Discuss.]
24. According to a UW Madison study, nearly 17,000 registered voters in Dane and Milwaukee Counties – the counties where Madison and Milwaukee are, and strongly Democratic – were deterred from voting by the draconian Voter ID law rammed through the Wisconsin Legislature by Governor Teabagger. When you add up the rest of Wisconsin, as many as 23,000 fully qualified voters, American citizens who are legally and Constitutionally qualified to vote in all elections, had their votes suppressed by Wisconsin’s draconian Voter Elimination Act. Given that der Sturmtrumper won Wisconsin by less than those 23,000 votes, it is fairly clear that the Republican war on voting is working as designed. Pretty soon there will be no need to vote at all, and your GOP masters will simply inform you of any changes in overlords. Or not, as they see fit.
25. If there has been one salutary effect of der Sturmtrumper’s war on the NFL, it has been the countless Actual Military Veterans who have stepped up to tell him to go to hell, pointing out that their service was to the Constitution and ideals of the United States and not a piece of fabric or the political views of an authoritarian minority. That’s what happens when a toy soldier like der Sturmtrumper runs into the real thing, I suppose.
26. And now the IRS is sharing information with Robert Mueller about several key officials in der Sturmtrumper’s campaign. So at least someone in America may soon see der Sturmtrumper’s tax returns.
27. Michael Hayden, a retired 4-star general who has led both the CIA and the NSA, weighed in on der Sturmtrumper’s War On The NFL as well. “As a 39-year military veteran, I think I know something about the flag, the anthem, patriotism, and I think I know why we fight,” he said. “It’s not to allow the president to divide us by wrapping himself in the national banner. I never imagined saying this before Friday, but if now forced to choose in this dispute, put me down with Kaepernick.” So yes, the people with Actual Clues are weighing in, thank you.
28. In the latest “Fourth Amendment? What Fourth Amendment?” news, apparently der Sturmtrumper’s DHS is planning to start collecting all social media information on anyone who has ever immigrated to this country, including permanent residents and – the real kicker – naturalized citizens. Because what is the Constitution besides a piece of inconvenient paper when it comes to authoritarian dictatorships? Remember when conservatism meant smaller, less intrusive government? Good times, man.
29. Roy Moore – the so-called-Christian and criminal theocrat who was twice thrown off the Alabama Supreme Court for gross insubordination and Dominionist subversion – won his primary against the guy der Sturmtrumper actually wanted, which is less of a victory for humanity than you’d think. Moore is the man who defied federal courts on human rights, on religious freedom, and on pretty much any issue that didn’t conform to his blasphemous ideology, and he’s just one forgone conclusion of an election away from being a Senator now. As Charles Pierce said, “I’m out of empathy for this stuff. I’m out of pity. I’m out of patience. And, not for nothing, but Moore’s opponent is a guy named Douglas Jones. In 2001, Jones convicted two men for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963, one of the iconic white supremacist terrorist acts of that period. One of those bastards already died in prison and the other keeps getting denied parole. If you’d rather be represented in the Senate by a lawless theocratic lunatic, rather than a guy that finally got justice for four murdered little girls, well, you deserve anything that goddamn happens to you.”
30. It appears that der Sturmtrumper spends his private time mocking the physical appearance of both John “Zero Fucks Left to Give” McCain and Mitch McConnell. On the one hand, McConnell is the sleaziest man in Washington DC and that’s saying something. On the other hand, going to war with the leaders of what is, theoretically, his own party is probably not all that wise. But then nobody ever accused der Sturmtrumper of being smart.
31. The Children’s Health Insurance Program expired on September 30th, and the GOP Congress didn’t bother to do anything to save a program that provides 9 million children with health insurance, because fuck you that’s why. The program goes back to the 90s, so it’s not like it has Obama cooties on it. Some folks in Congress – Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) – were working on something, but not successfully. This is what happens when the GOP spends all its time working to take away healthcare from everyone else too, I suppose.
32. So, having failed to gut American healthcare, der Sturmtrumper and his minions, cronies, and lackeys turn their attention to looting the treasury through what they euphemistically refer to as tax “reform.” As always, the sum total of their creativity can be expressed in a simple declarative sentence: “Give more money to the rich because something something something Laffer curve mumble mumble magic beans something something prosperity out of nothing mumble mumble SQUIRREL!” Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick but this is stupid. Say it with me, folks: Supply side economics does not work in a demand side economy. Never has. Never will. All it does is transfer wealth out of the hands of the poor and middle class and into the hands of the already wealthy, and if your goal is an ancien regime society of nobles and peasants you can’t ask for a better plan than that, but if you’re looking for a strong middle-class democracy then you should search elsewhere.
33. There’s a reason the American middle class got smaller under Reagan and Bush Jr, and why it has gotten precipitously smaller in Wisconsin since the election of Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries). There’s also a reason why it got bigger under Bill Clinton, who raised taxes on the wealthy and was rewarded with an economic boom that was in fact greater than the one in the 1980s. Again: supply side economics does not work in a demand side economy. It really is that simple.
34. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe Bruce Bartlett, who was a key economic advisor for Ronald Reagan and developed the now-bog-standard GOP tax mythology of “tax cuts = prosperity” while working for Representative Jack Kemp. That “mythology” (his word, I will point out) is nonsense. “That’s wishful thinking,” he wrote in the Washington Post. “So is most Republican rhetoric around tax cutting. In reality, there’s no evidence that a tax cut now would spur growth.” As Bartlett points out, the economic growth of the 1980s was due to any number of factors and was in fact less in terms of percentage of GDP 35.9%) than the growth of the 1970s (37.2%), when taxes were supposedly holding back the economy. There is, he writes zero – absolutely none – evidence that the tax cut of 1986 did any economic good whatsoever, and for all the tax cuts imposed by Bush Jr the economy grew by only 19.5% of GDP, which you will note is just about half of what it was in the 1970s. And when Obama let some of the Bush Jr tax cuts expire he was rewarded with the longest consecutive month streak of economic growth in American history. Reality: not the friend of the GOP.
35. If you’re wondering why the GOP tax plot is the unholy mess it is, you might want to ask der Sturmtrumper’s economic advisor Gary Cohn, who thinks that the average American family brings in almost twice what the actual median income for a family of four is and that you can buy a car or a kitchen for $1000. It’s this kind of delusional thinking that has been sabotaging the American economy since 1981.
36. Perhaps this is why the GOP tax “plan” is a half-baked incomplete outline full of nonsense, magical thinking, elisions, empty rhetoric, and gaps. Not that this deterred them on health care. What details there are point to a vicious and open war on everyone not already wealthy, one that will see vast transfers of wealth up the social ladder. But then, how hard is it to predict the future when these nitwits keep doing the same thing over and over?
37. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, der Sturmtrumper’s Magical Tax Plan O’ Wishful Thinking will cost the US $2.4 trillion in its first ten years, with an additional $3.2 trillion in the next ten years. The bottom 95% of earners will see a 1.2% increase in their after-tax earnings, while the top 1% will see an 8.5% increase. The top 1% will see a tax cut that is roughly 80x the tax cut of the average person. And by 2027 about a quarter of taxpayers will see their tax bills increase. Yeah, this is pretty much More Of Same. The basic GOP position on wealth is that if we give the rich more, the crumbs they drop for the rest of us will be bigger. You know, I’m not sure how much antifreeze you have to drink in order to make that idea make any sense at all to you, but it’s more than I am willing to consume.
38. You have to give Wisconsin’s Own Republican Senator Ron Johnson – the dumbest man in the legislature now that Rick Santorum has retired – some credit for being honest, at least. When the rest of the GOP makes comfortable mooing sounds about actually giving a damn about the American people, Johnson just comes right out and tells us to go to hell. He actually came right out and told a high school student in a public forum that not only was health care a privilege reserved for the wealthy, but so too were food, clothing, and shelter. Think about that for a moment, why don’t you. Suddenly the GOP platform makes a whole lot more sense, doesn’t it?
39. Certainly der Sturmtrumper’s reaction to the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Puerto Rico makes a lot more sense in light of Johnson’s frank declaration of Republican priorities. Let’s start with the fact that he thinks dedicating a golf trophy to people who are without food, electricity, or shelter is at all appropriate, let alone beneficial, and then move on to the immoral and utterly un-American treatment of American citizens by what is supposed to be their own government – how der Sturmtrumper has attempted to bully and shame American citizens for expecting their own government to help out in time of catastrophe, which is after all THE ENTIRE FUCKING PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT. There is no further evidence needed to prove the utter moral leprosy of der Sturmtrumper and anyone who continues to support him in light of these events.
40. And, yet again, I wake up to find that there has been another mass shooting in the US, another slaughter of the innocent by some penis-deficient white man (you knew he was white even before seeing a picture because he was described as a “lone wolf” instead of a “terrorist”) compensating for his shortcomings with high-powered weaponry, another mass murder by firearm that somehow, some way, magically seems to keep happening in the only industrialized democracy on earth that refuses to put any meaningful limits on guns but is so rare elsewhere where such restrictions are in place. I am So Fucking Tired of this shit. And yet I know nothing will happen. We as Americans have decided that this is an acceptable price to pay for access to guns, and we will continue pay it until such time as we grow up and decide otherwise. Take a long hard look, my fellow Americans, at what political party stands in the way of regulations on weapons of mass murder – even regulations that are supported by over 80% of the population, which by definition includes members of that party – and which party does not. Any surprises? Thought not.
41. Of course nothing will come of this reckoning. Don’t be stupid. The debate over regulating guns in the US ended after Sandy Hook. We had someone walk into an elementary school and slaughter nearly two dozen first-graders and the only result of that was we went out and bought more guns. So the next time some yellow-bellied coward tries to take away your Constitutional rights in the name of security because all those brown-skinned foreign terrorists who hate us for our freedoms are Coming After Us, ask them what those terrorists can possibly do to us that we don’t already do to ourselves with gleeful abandon and greater efficiency. And if you get an answer that makes any grammatical sense, count yourself lucky.
42. When Americans decide that they value their children more than they value their guns, things will change. Until then, they won’t. It really is that simple.