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. Did you know that rising sea levels are not cause by global climate change and the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice the way scientists have measured? No, according to Congressman Mo Brooks, Republican from Alabama, they’re caused by rocks falling into the ocean. Must be the ones falling out of his head.
2. Vickers Cunningham is running for a county judge seat in Dallas on the GOP ticket, and the Dallas Morning News even endorsed him until they found out that he had set up a living trust for his children that paid his kids bonuses for marrying someone white. The GOP: where people like Cunningham feel welcome.
3. Here in Wisconsin, our frantically partisan GOP State Attorney General received $4100 from an anti-LGBTQ “Christian” hate group – a group that openly calls for criminalizing private sexual orientations and sterilizing transgendered Americans against their will (because Small Government and Individual Liberty!), as well as the usual blasphemous nonsense about using the smokescreen of religious belief as a justification for denying American citizens their basic rights and freedoms – to attend their conference, and then decided to keep it a secret. He sees nothing wrong with this, which is just one more reason why people like Brad Schimel are happy in the modern GOP and why they should not be trusted with political power at any level of government.
4. EPA director Scott Pruitt clearly thinks that the American republic is now dead and he can behave as the tinpot dictator he has always wanted to be. The EPA held a national summit on harmful water contaminants last month, except that Tinpot Pruitt decided that only certain news agencies were allowed to attend this taxpayer-funded event – a list that notably excluded CNN and the AP. And when an AP reporter dared to do her job as the First Amendment specifically guarantees her right to do, EPA thugs forcibly threw her out of the building. Remind me again why I should make any distinction between the GOP and the Fascists?
5. Poor Jared Kushner – even his own Harvard classmates won’t give him any respect. He didn’t send in anything for his class’s 15th Anniversary Report, but his classmates sure did. “I, for one, am actually glad that our Class of ’03 finally has a real, live fascist among us. Who says Harvard isn’t diverse!” said one. “I’ve always wanted to meet someone who is as unfamiliar with the principles of democratic self-government or the history of twentieth-century ideologies that resulted in mass slaughter as he is with how to grow a beard. Poor dude – probably wishes he could just walk around New York again without anyone calling him a traitor or a collaborator. I mean, I do it all the time, so I know how good that feels.” Or, my personal favorite entry, “I think what I’m most proud of, however, is what I’ve managed to avoid during the past five years. I haven’t been accused of making false statements on or material omissions from security clearance disclosure forms. I haven’t been accused of colluding with representatives of a foreign government to affect the outcome of an election. I haven’t been accused of using my government position to sell visas to foreign investors in my family’s business. I haven’t been sued for mistreating tenants or violating rental laws. I think we can all be better than that.” Well, most of us can, anyway.
6. Kevin Drum had perhaps the best comment on new NRA Chief Henchman Ollie “Iran-Contra” North’s blisteringly inane response to the latest (as of this writing) school shooting massacre. “I would just like to say that, all things considered, I think I preferred it back when the NRA maintained a cowardly silence after school shootings, figuring that the fuss would go away within a week or so,” Drum wrote. “We’ve now seen the alternative, and it’s even more repugnant and stupid.” Seriously, it’s like they’re just not even trying to be plausible or even remotely moral anymore. They just frantically lash out like a broken steel cable on a pulley, causing ever more damage to the American soul with every moment of their existence.
h/t to my friend Jack for the reference
7. Since when do presidents “demand” anything from the Department of Justice (let alone “hereby demand,” which makes der Sturmtrumper seem like even more of an arrogant fool than he is – no mean feat, really)? Der Sturmtrumper is ramping up his hysterical distraction campaign by violating longstanding political norms which dictate that a) the Justice Department is not a partisan tool (this is one of the things that brought down Nixon, remember) and b) the subject of an investigation gets no say in the scope, duration, and thoroughness of the investigation. Only dictators and tyrants think otherwise. Note carefully who thinks otherwise and who supports him and remember that when people show you who they are you should believe them.
8. Note also that the GOP Congress has done NOTHING to fulfill their Constitutionally mandated obligations to check the power of this careening president. The Founding Fathers would have had this crew horsewhipped.
9. The Guardian published a fascinating article recently on falling US birthrates. American birthrates are now at a 30-year low and have been below replacement for over a decade now. Without the immigration that right-wingers are so frothy about this country’s population would be declining. For all the blame that gets tossed around (selfish women! abortions! Obama, somehow!) the plain fact, as the article points out, is that “for all its pro-family rhetoric, the US is a remarkably harsh place for families, and particularly for mothers.”
“It’s a well-known fact, but one that bears repeating in this context, that the US is one of only four countries in the world with no government-subsidized maternity leave. The other three are Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea, countries that the US doesn’t tend to view as its peer group.” Corporate healthcare insurance covers only a shade more than half of US mothers, and only 6% get full pay during maternity leave. None of this applies to part-timers, gig-workers, or the rest of the New Economy, who get no benefits at all. Single-income families are increasingly rare and increasingly impoverished – it is no longer possible to sustain a middle-class family on one income in this country – so staying home isn’t much of an option either, particularly since even the most optimistic estimates show that American wages have grown by about 0.2% per year since the 1970s despite vast increases in productivity. All of the inflation-adjusted increases in wealth in this country has gone to the top 10% of the economic scale for decades now, and guess who promotes the policies that make that possible?
If you’re thinking the same party that guts labor unions, passes tax cuts for the already wealthy, shreds the social safety network, and has a health-care policy that is best summed up as “die if you can’t afford it,” you win! Not sure if that’s really winning, but there you go.
10. All those surprised that der Sturmtrumper got played like a dime-store trombone by North Korea please raise your hand and explain why you weren’t paying attention.
11. Remember all those frantic cries of “Lock her up!” thrown at Hillary Clinton because she was sloppy with her email security? Somehow it’s okay that der Sturmtrumper refuses to adhere to even basic cellphone security measures because they’re “too inconvenient.” Waiting for the right wing to call for der Sturmtrumper to be locked up in 3 … 2 … oh, who am I kidding. Rules are for other people – that’s the foundational belief of the modern GOP.
12. Maybe someone should take away his cell phone just on principle anyway. For a guy who spews insults like he’s auditioning for Pretender King of the 4th Grade, he sure has a thin skin for any criticism whatsoever. And when people respond to his fatuous tweets that way, he blocks them. Now, blocking people in Twitter is perfectly acceptable for a private citizen, but it turns out that when a president uses that service in his official capacity, blocking American citizens amounts to government censorship and violates the First Amendment. Yet another crime to add to der Sturmtrumper’s long and impressive list that nobody on the right wing cares about because POWER HAHAHAHAHAHA.
13. Despite the fact that Robert Mueller’s investigation has produced 5 guilty pleas (Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Alexander van der Zwaan, and Richard Pinedo) related to der Sturmtrumper’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as 17 criminal indictments awaiting trial (most notably Paul Manafort), a recent poll found that the majority of Americans have no idea that this is the case. No wonder der Sturmtrumper’s minions can blithely assume that the investigation is a waste – they’re so uninformed that they don’t understand what has already been accomplished. And what is fast being accomplished.
14. The Jeff Flake Apology Tour continues. In a commencement address to the Harvard Law School, the outgoing GOP Senator from Arizona pointedly noted that he was “here today as a representative of a co-equal branch of our federal government – which is failing its constitutional obligations to counteract the power of the president, and in so doing is dishonoring itself.”
“Your national leadership is … not good,” he told the graduates. “At all. Our presidency has been debased by a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works. And our Article I branch of government, the Congress (that’s me), is utterly supine in the face of the moral vandalism that flows from the White House daily.”
The whole speech is actually worth reading. I disagree with Flake on most issues – and I note that he has saved this for a time when he is retiring from politics rather than a time when he might have to face voters – but he says some worthwhile things and asks a lot of good questions.
“Do you believe in democracy or not? Are you faithful to your country, or to your party? Are you loyal to the law and the Constitution, or to a man?”
And what do you plan to do to prove it?
15. Have you ever wondered if the GOP can possibly be any more petty and childish? Of course they can! Don’t be silly! In an extremely uncommon move, FEMA – the same organization that, under der Sturmtrumper, still hasn’t managed to restore electricity to Puerto Rico nearly a year after it was destroyed by a hurricane that recent estimates killed more than 4000 people, because fuck those brown-skinned Spanish-speaking people even if they are American citizens, that’s why – has decided to remove twelve reports evaluating its own response to crises under Obama. It’s not an accident that those reports generally included words like “effective” and “efficient.” These clowns have no positive agenda – their entire useless existence is predicated on undoing the Obama Administration’s achievements no matter how damaging that undoing is to the reputation, safety, prestige, or long-term survival of the United States.
16. “Whoever heard of a system where you put people through trials?” – der Sturmtrumper, May 24, 2018.
Uh, anyone who believes in the rule of law? Anyone who thinks petit-Fascist wannabe dictators and their henchmen should be removed from power, tried, jailed, incarcerated, and forgotten by the civilized world? Anyone who respects the Constitution? It’s a pretty long list, actually.
17. GOP Representative Dana Rohrabacher – a right-wing extremist of long standing – actually managed to lose an endorsement from the National Association of Realtors when he declared that it was perfectly okay not to sell homes to Americans based on their sexual orientation. When pressed, he was apparently mystified by the reaction, criticizing the Realtors for their insistence that American citizens be treated as American citizens. Yes, folks, this is your GOP, where bigotry matters more than just about anything. Dana, meet Vickers. Vickers, Dana. You’ll get along just fine.
18. Since the GOP Congress has decided that it won’t do a damned thing about the ongoing gun slaughter in this country, even if that means justifying school massacres in order to keep unfettered access to their penis substitutes (and try not to think about those mental images too much), the banking industry has decided that it will. This makes sense, because eventually there will be lawsuits and the blanket immunity the GOP has given gunmakers and their accomplices will be lifted and banks are nothing if not risk-averse. Major banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America have restricted services to gun retailers and stopped lending money to gun makers who refuse to comply with age limit and background check rules. They are also reducing services to businesses that sell high capacity magazines and bump stocks, and halting lending to companies that make assault rifles. While this is a small step toward sanity, it is apparently too much for the GOP. They have threatened the banks with retaliatory legislation that would force private businesses to comply with Republican partisan positions, and the rank hypocrisy stinks like a tire fire. The GOP doesn’t care about free markets when it comes to their own power, and if that means making it easier for some loser to slaughter your children then it sucks to be you, doesn’t it?
19. The NFL – a league that has been losing public interest for a long time now – has decided that the right of free speech does not apply to their players. Now, the NFL is a private corporation (albeit with some interesting federal legal protections that could stand to be re-examined) and the Supreme Court has routinely acknowledged that the First Amendment does not apply to how private corporations treat their employees. They are free to punish their employees for speech that the government would have to let slide. Corporations have no legal obligation to respect your rights, Constitutional or otherwise, which is something right-wingers should think more carefully about as they sell the country off to the highest bidder. They won’t but they should.
But the sheer hypocrisy of the thing is staggering. The NFL is, of course, responding to players who knelt during the national anthem as a way to protest police brutality against blacks in this country. It was everything right-wingers insist that protests ought to be – nonviolent, nondisruptive, respectful, and so on – but the point of right-wingers is that any deviance from the norm as they define the norm is a sin punishable by death. Leaving aside the deviant way they define the norm, this still has issues.
For one thing, the penalization of free speech by the NFL is clearly a response to der Sturmtrumper and his right-wing minions complaining like toddlers about being offended – one NFL owner has even admitted it forthrightly. These right-wingers are the people who call liberals “snowflakes,” remember? If you ever want to know what the right-wing is up to, look at what they accuse their opponents of doing. It’s a startlingly reliable guide. But the right wing has won and forced displays of “patriotism” are now the rule. Seriously, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the GOP apart from the Nazis.
For another thing, remember Tim Tebow? The darling of the right-wing because he had values even if he didn’t actually have talent? Isn’t he the guy who took a knee during the national anthem in 2012 to protest the fact that women have the right to control their own bodies? Yes, yes he was! In point of fact, he specifically noted that he couldn’t stand for a flag that allowed abortion. On the other hand, Colin Kaepernick clearly stated that his protest had nothing to do with the flag or the military. Yet Tebow remains the darling of the right wing and Kaepernick – a far more talented player – is unemployed.
20. On a related note, ABC recently fired the star of its most successful sitcom because she is a flaming racist. Naturally der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, cronies, and enablers have a real problem with that and have been defending this racism loudly because really, what else would they do? Criticize their own platform?
One of their favorite tactics is “whataboutism” – a distraction technique designed to make their bigotry look acceptable by comparing it to other, allegedly similar, problems. In particular, der Sturmtrumper is now angry at Samantha Bee for reasons that probably made sense to him at the time, and he is demanding that her show be canceled too.
For those who don’t get the problem with this or why these cases are different (and why der Sturmtrumper’s position is far more dangerous and immoral), this sets it up pretty well:
21. From the “we’re just making shit up as we go along and we’re confident that our base won’t even notice” files comes this latest gem: der Sturmtrumper is now claiming that a “senior White House official” who was quoted in a New York Times article regarding the fiasco of der Sturmtrumper’s North Korea policy “doesn’t exist.” Except that this was a group call with dozens of reporters listening in, some of whom have now named the source publicly in response to this latest barrage of lies. Unless der Sturmtrumper is in the habit of farming out his policy statements to random strangers, this is once again an example of his complete and utter inability to tell the truth.
22. Though it is an example of his larger tactic. In an interview with Lesley Stahl – a reporter who has more credibility in her little finger than der Sturmtrumper has in his entire mafia-like organization combined – der Sturmtrumper was very clear on why he does stuff like this. Stahl asked him to explain why he continually insults and lies about journalists, and his response was telling. “You know why I do it?” he asked her. “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.” And with his gullible base, it’s working. This is how autocrats destroy republics.
23. So apparently der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, sycophants and henchmen have enacted a new policy whereby they steal children from their parents and put them, um, “into foster care or whatever,” in the immortal words of John Kelly. Kelly sees nothing wrong with this. Kelly has thus definitively proven himself to be a waste of space and oxygen and a wart on the ass of humanity.
Let’s just be clear about this, people. When your stated policy is to destroy families and blight the lives of children, you are in fact the problem. You are wrong. You are, in fact, evil. As a parent, I cannot tell you how enraged I am that my own government is sufficiently immoral and cruel to separate children from their parents like that. It’s almost as enraged as I am about the fact that there are so many people in this country who see nothing wrong with this. Fuck. Them. All. Sideways.
Please remember: the Nuremberg War Crime Trials established the principle that “just following orders” was not a legal defense. This principle carries legal weight here in the United States. For example, the US military specifically requires its personnel to disobey unlawful orders. This is pure-grade Crimes Against Humanity shit that der Sturmtrumper’s regime is pulling here, and make no mistake: everyone who takes part in it, everyone who goes along with it, everyone who speaks in its defense will be subject to the full weight of justice.
May their God forgive them, because I will not.
24. Meanwhile der Sturmtrumper is on the public warpath blaming Democrats for his own twisted policy on immigrant children. Folks, don’t listen to the lies. The policy of destroying families and stealing children is a direct result of Republican priorities and policies, implemented by a Republican president, with the support of a mind-bogglingly large number of Republican voters who are apparently only support children until the moment they’re born and then are happy to throw them into the nearest bonfire. Watching people defend this lie and this policy has been an eye-opening experience for anyone who still held out hope for humanity.
25. Just gonna leave this riiiiiight here.
26. GOP Congressman Peter King – always a reliable source of right-wing insanity dressed up as hubris, which is as close as he can get to pretending to be normal – has decided that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem is basically the same thing as “players giving Nazi salutes.” Uh, Pete? You belong to a party that is increasingly difficult to separate from actual Nazis, you know that, right? I’d back down from those comparisons if I were you. You might irritate some of the “fine people” who tend to get frothy at the sight of powerful black men being lumped in with them, and who knows what those losers will do next. Just saying.
27. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, April 2018 was the 400th consecutive month with above historically average temperatures. The last time the planet had a cooler than average month was December 1984. Meanwhile carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have now reached 410ppm, which is the highest in all of recorded history. This means that we are headed for a “worst case scenario” climate change in the next century, one that will wreak havoc on the natural environment and leave large portions of the globe essentially uninhabitable. And yet der Sturmtrumper and the rest of the GOP insists that everything is fine, just fine, because they’ll be gone by that point and fuck your grandchildren that’s why. The short-sighted stupidity of the American right wing knows no bounds whatsoever.
28. Der Sturmtrumper is so determined to undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation into his crimes that he is willing to violate basic legal principals to do so. That’s how you ended up with his chief of staff and his attorney sitting in on a classified briefing given by the Justice Department on the investigation itself. As one FBI official said, “This is an investigation centering squarely around the president and his cohorts and we’ve got the president’s chief of staff attending a classified briefing – and getting sensitive intelligence – about said investigation. It’s a fucking circus.” When told that der Sturmtrumper’s lawyer was also there, he added, “This is truly mind-boggling.” Noted Renato Mariotti, a longtime federal prosecutor in Chicago, “It is completely inappropriate for a lawyer representing a subject of the investigation to attend the congressional oversight meeting in which nonpublic information about the investigation was revealed. What possible legitimate purpose could his attendance have served?” None, but that’s the point. This is a blatant attempt to intimidate the investigators while simultaneously accessing information they have no right to have at this point. This crosses a line. Not that the GOP cares. They’ve amply demonstrated that the only lines they care about are the ones that strengthen their cast-iron grip on power, however legitimately or illegitimately obtained or maintained.
29. Der Sturmtrumper has been twisting himself in knots with accusations that the FBI was “spying” on his campaign for political purposes. Horrors! Zut alors! Except that nothing of the kind actually happened. There was an informant, but that was for criminal investigation purposes – and der Sturmtrumper may not think so, but there is a difference between crime and politics. And when a classified briefing was held for Republican and Democratic legislators on the subject, the bipartisan consensus was that this whole spying thing was just so much nonsense. “Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols,” noted Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Meanwhile GOP leaders – who should be shouting from the rooftops if there were anything even remotely plausible to these accusations (and who might well shout anyway if they thought they could get away with even the appearance of substance to those accusations) have been, well, silent. Neither Paul Ryan nor Devin Nunes (Trump’s pet attack dog, according to Nunes’ own hometown newspaper) were willing to comment publicly, and apparently Nunes said nothing at all during the actual briefing.
30. Of course there’s nothing to this but misdirection and partisan smokeblowing. Der Sturmtrumper’s latest pet attorney, Rudy Giuliani (who has a disconcerting habit of blowing holes in his boss’s stories) has flat out admitted as much. “It is for public opinion,” he told CNN. He and der Sturmtrumper were using a “very specific, very political strategy to undermine the investigation.” It’s all about public relations prior to impeachment, and it’s interesting that even the president’s own lawyers are pretty much conceding that their man is impeachment fodder. They just want to spin the public relations when it happens. Let that sink in why don’t you.
31. So der Sturmtrumper is apparently eager to get into a trade war with, um, everyone. Including every single one of our allies. Even Canada, of all places! Combined with the recent repeal of the financial oversight laws put into place after the economic collapse of 2008, you really do have to wonder how much of a foreign agent this guy is. If I were planning to destroy the United States, I don’t think I could have done a better job than the one der Sturmtrumper and his minions, cronies, lackeys, lickspittles, and enablers have done.
32. A new study conducted by researchers at two California universities and published by the journal Social Forces has concluded the obvious: white Americans hate social safety net programs because they think too many non-whites are benefiting from them. They hate them so much, in fact, that they are willing to suffer in order to see non-whites suffer – whites, after all, make up the majority of Medicaid and food stamp recipients, and slashing those programs to hurt non-whites amounts to cutting off your nose to spite your face. Whites, when confronted by the inescapable demographic fact that they will be a minority soon, fear the loss of privilege and are doing everything to maintain their grip on power and are flocking to the GOP to achieve this. Other research shows that whites with high levels of “racial resentment” line up with the GOP on most issues, up to and including the hallucinatory view that climate change is somehow not real.
Makes a man kind of embarrassed to share a skin color with some people. But you know what? To hell with them. I am who I am, and they need to grow up and stop being such idiots.
33. A new UN report (freely available online) has concluded that the United States is rapidly increasing its already historic and unsustainable levels of economic inequality thanks to the policies put into place by der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, and cronies, and that if this trend continues the entire country could face serious and permanent damage. “It’s clear that this administration is totally out of step with the rest of the advanced world,” noted the study. “[T]he policies pursed over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment, and make even basic health care a privilege,” said the author in an interview with The Guardian. “This is a systematic attack on America’s welfare program that is undermining the social safety net for those who can’t cope on their own. Once you start removing any sense of government commitment, you quickly move into cruelty.”
Remember, folks: when the poor have nothing left to eat, they will eat the rich. This is how history works. The United States is not immune to history. Don’t be surprised or say you weren’t warned.
34. Der Sturmtrumper’s lawyers are scared shitless. That’s really the only plausible explanation for their frantic attempts to argue against a subpoena coming from Robert Mueller for their client. They know he’s a crook. They know he can’t give a straight answer to even the most comically simple question, something Giuliani recently admitted by saying that they don’t want him to testify because his “recollections keep changing,” which is just another way to say that he’s told so many lies he can’t keep them all straight or tell them from reality anymore. They know he will commit perjury simply because that’s what he does. They know that putting him under oath will be a festival of criminal activity over and above whatever he’s being asked about. They’re desperate to keep this from happening. So desperate, in fact, that they’ve pulled out the old Nixonian argument. “The president cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the investigation,” they claim. “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal,” said Nixon.
That, folks, is the very definition of tyranny. That is a dictatorship. When a president can decide on his own, without reference to the law and without any check on his power, whether he himself can be investigated for crimes, you can pretty much forget about liberty. This is EXACTLY what the Founding Fathers feared would happen to their republic. Congratulations, those of you who continue to support der Sturmtrumper – you are officially working to destroy the American experiment in self-governance.
Understand something, folks: there is NOBODY above the law in this country. The president is not a king. He is not a tyrant, much though the current occupant of the office likes to think he is. The president is nothing more than our most public servant. He works for us. And he is bound by the law and the Constitution just like us. Presidents – and this one most of all – are fully capable of committing crimes. And they must be severely punished when they do.
The fact that his lawyers are even making this nonsensical argument strongly suggests that they are just throwing out whatever idiotic things they can in order to keep the gullible on board, and that they know the GOP doesn’t have the backbone to call them on it. When the history of this shameful administration is written, the most vitriolic contempt will be reserved for the GOP Congress who stood idly by and let this reckless fool and his supporters destroy the country.
35. On a historical note, consider this headline:
Do these idiots not realize that this exact sentiment was one of the contributing factors that led to the Revolution? Have they not heard about The Administration of Justice Act of 1774, which was considered by the colonists to be one of the Intolerable Acts? The colonists called it The Murder Act because they felt that it effectively gave permission to royal officials to shoot people down in cold blood without facing any legal consequences, much as Giuliani is claiming for der Sturmtrumper. Are they trying to provoke another Revolution? Lawsey, I hope not. Once one of those things starts you have no idea where it will end or at what cost. But sometimes I think that has to be their goal. If it isn’t, they’re pretty goddamned stupid to be saying the things they’re saying.
36. I’ll be more interested in the search for intelligent life in the universe after I see more evidence of it here on Earth.