Monday, July 2, 2018

Continued Stray Thoughts on the Current Political Climate

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.  So the Supreme Court has overturned decades of precedent and all civilized morality in order to that it is okay for public businesses to serve only those parts of the public that they like, in whatever manner they like.  Welcome to the new Plessy v Ferguson, I suppose – the New Gilded Age rolls on, with anyone not a straight white evangelical male being relegated to second-class status at best.  Astonishingly, the Court insisted that this decision was not about the rights of LGBTQ American citizens to be treated as American citizens – the key issue, really – but was instead about the people who processed the original complaint, who were apparently insufficiently obsequious regarding the religious views of those who wished to deny American citizens the rights of American citizens.  This is, of course, nonsense.  Help me out – why is religion even part of the discussion here?  The United States is not founded on religion and we do not need to follow the Bible in our laws.  We are founded on the Constitution, and we follow that in our laws.  Your personal beliefs – sincerely held or not, catered to or not – are utterly irrelevant to this discussion.  If you want theocracy, move to Iran.

2. On the other hand, the decision was narrowly decided on procedural grounds, and it has already had one unforeseen consequence.  The Arizona Court of Appeals released a decision in the case of Brush & Nib Studio v Phoenix in a case that more or less mirrored the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.  The Studio was a card and decoration seller for, among other things, weddings, and they argued that a Phoenix law banning discrimination against same sex couples violated their First Amendment rights.  The Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously rejected this and cited the Masterpiece decision in support of its argument. 

Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. The exercise of their freedom on terms equal to others must be given great weight and respect by the courts. At the same time, the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression. As this Court observed in Obergefell v. Hodges, “[t]he First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Nevertheless, while those religious and philosophical objections are protected, it is a general rule that such objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.

“The government may prohibit businesses from discriminating against same-sex couples,” noted, “so long as it respects those business’ religious beliefs in adjudicating those disputes.  Brush & Bib Studio may sincerely oppose same-sex marriage.  But, the court explained, it could not create an exception for anti-gay business without inflicting a ‘grave and continuing harm’ on gay people.” 

Leaving aside the issue of whether businesses can have beliefs at all, this is essentially the opposite of what the bigots wanted, and seeing their own so-called victory used against them is just one of the bright spots that this world offers sometimes.

3. No, the president cannot pardon himself.  Don’t be ridiculous.  Only an idiot would say he could, and the fact that plenty of idiots are saying this now does not make it any less grotesquely stupid of a thing to say.  One of the foundational principles of western legal systems is that nobody can be the judge in their own case.  This was reported to Richard Nixon by the Department of Justice in 1974, in fact, only three days before he resigned in disgrace.  Now if only der Sturmtrumper would take the hint.

4. Der Sturmtrumper’s Nixonian argument that the president cannot obstruct justice because anything the president does is by definition legal is too much even for some Republicans.  PA Senator Pat Toomey said, “it is entirely possible for a president to obstruct justice,” and added that he could think of “lots of ways a president could obstruct justice.”  Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), noting the impeachment of Bill Clinton, said, “There’s a precedent there, obviously.  I’ve always said I didn’t think anybody is above or below the law.”  Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was one of the leaders of the impeachment circus in the 1990s, continues to have at least the virtue of consistency – “Well, you can be impeached for obstructing justice, that’s what we did with Clinton,” he pointed out.  So perhaps, just perhaps, when it comes to a choice between country and party, there might be just enough patriotism in the GOP to make a positive difference.

5. The German government – which knows how to recognize a Nazi when it sees one – is formally demanding an explanation for der Sturmtrumper’s pet ambassador’s threat to use his office to help right-wing extremist parties take over not only Germany but all of Europe.  This threat is, of course, not only a serious violation of diplomatic protocol that could very well lead to a break in relations with one of the United States’ most powerful and important allies, but also typical of the tin-eared radicalism of the regime this ambassador represents back in Washington DC.  Not that it is atypical of Richard Grenell’s style – a hyperpartisan GOP operative with a long history of bombshell stupid statements, Grenell seemed quite happy to tell Breitbart all about his plan to “empower” the sorts of people that ran Germany until 1945.  Sweet dancing monkeys in a stick, people – it has come to this: the United States is now actively working to reintroduce Nazism to Germany.  Think about that.

6. On the other hand, State Department spokesbot Heather Nauert claimed that “We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany.  Looking back on the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion.”  Uh, wait.  Stop.  Run that last one by me again?  Weren’t we shooting Germans on D-Day?  I’m not sure this is the kind of relationship you want, especially if your own ambassador is actively trying to revive the NSDAP over there.

7. Robert Mueller’s team is reportedly now requesting that witnesses turn in their cell phones so they can’t hide encrypted messages from them.  This is neither groundbreaking nor surprising, since these are witnesses to potential criminal acts and Mueller’s team has the right to that information.  The witnesses can turn it over voluntarily or wait for the subpoena, but either way the end result is the same.  Naturally the right wing has issues with this.  Sean Hannity – der Sturmtrumper’s biggest cheerleader and Michael Cohen’s other client – has publicly advised witnesses to obstruct justice.  “Take your phones and bash ‘em with a hammer into itsy bitsy pieces, use bleach bit, remove the SIM cards and then take the pieces and hand it over to Robert Mueller,” he said to his minions. 

First, Hannity is now guilty of a crime – admittedly not a big one, unless one of those witnesses actually follows his advice, but obstruction of justice is obstruction of justice no matter how thin you slice it.  I look forward to his prosecution in a court of law. 

Second, it’s really amazing, isn’t it?  How nobody on the GOP side ever thinks that any evidence that Mueller could turn up will possibly exonerate der Sturmtrumper?  They know damn well he’s guilty, and every time they open their mouths it just makes that more obvious.  May they all go down together.

8. In an astonishingly cynical move, the North Carolina GOP – the leading edge of autocracy and corruption at the state level these days, which, in a country that includes Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Maine, is quite an achievement – has decided that if they can’t disenfranchise nonwhites and registered Democrats legally they will rewrite the state constitution to make it happen.  Their Voter Suppression law was overturned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016 for targeting “African Americans with almost surgical precision,” and since the GOP knows it cannot win a free and fair election they need a new tactic to guarantee their iron grip on power.  But yeah, “freedom.”

9. Abby Huntsman, one of the hosts of der Sturmtrumper’s favorite television shows “Fox & Friends,” described the meeting between der Sturmtrumper and Kim Jong-un as a meeting between “two dictators” and the other hosts didn’t even bother to correct it.  They’re not even trying to lie to you anymore, are they?

10. Oh sweet dancing monkeys on a stick, what a debacle der Sturmtrumper turned in at the G7 meeting in Quebec.  What an embarrassment this idiot is to my country.  Paul Krugman summed it up well:

What went down in Quebec? I’m already seeing headlines to the effect that Trump took a belligerent “America first” position, demanding big concessions from our allies, which would have been bad. But the reality was much worse.

He didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.

Der Sturmtrumper demanded – demanded! – that Russia be readmitted to the group, despite the fact that a) they were expelled for illegally invading Ukraine, a situation which continues, and b) their economy is nowhere near important enough to be included, being smaller than Brazil’s.  He demanded – demanded! – that the G7 member nations remove “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on US goods despite the fact that the US government’s own numbers say that those tariffs average only 3% on American goods.  He showed up to important meetings late and left early.  He refused to sign the summit statement at the end because Reasons.  He attempted to start trade wars with all of our most important allies and threatened to cut off all trade with them unless they gave in to his petulant, incoherent demands.  This is a disgrace and an embarrassment, and anyone who supports this clown should be ashamed.

13. French President Emmanuel Macron was fairly clear in expressing the general reaction of the civilized world toward the juvenile antics of the American president.  “We spent two days to obtain a text and commitments,” he said.  “We will stand by them and anyone who would depart from them, once their back is turned, shows their incoherence and inconsistency.  International cooperation cannot depend on fits of anger or little words.  Let us be serious and worthy of our people.”  But you see, that’s the problem.  Der Sturmtrumper is neither serious nor worthy.

14. Der Sturmtrumper doesn’t seem to have figured out that everything the President reads or writes is part of history and needs to be preserved.  That’s not just a noble sentiment – that is actually federal law.  Apparently he destroys every document he handles, and then some poor slob has to go back and tape it back together.  Literally.  Laws are for other people folks – remember, that’s the GOP motto.

15.  Wait – is der Sturmtrumper really trying to pick a fight with Canada of all places?  Canada?  One of our oldest allies?  The country we share the world’s longest undefended border with?  The place known for being polite?  The one that has supported the US through pretty much everything over the last century and a half?  That Canada?  Can this guy be more of an asshole than he already is?  Can he destroy the American standing in the world more thoroughly than he is already doing?  Enquiring minds want to know.

16. Aaaaand continuing on the theme of These Fuckers Are Evil, now you have Our Confederate Attorney General announcing to the world that the US will no longer accept domestic abuse as legitimate grounds for asylum.  So wife-beaters of the world rejoice!  The US government is officially on your side!  Can we just throw this bunch of assholes into the river and be done with them now?  This goes beyond the snarkable and into the outright depraved.  Seriously, these fuckwits need to be torn down and replaced with human beings.

Also, the next time some right-winger gets on their high horse about “values” I will go spare.

17.  Der Sturmtrumper finally did get to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and, as predicted, got played like a dime store trombone.  In exchange for giving North Korea pretty much everything it demanded – security guarantees, equal treatment as a nuclear power, and the suspension of war exercises with South Korea that they have demanded for decades (a suspension which came as a great surprise to both South Korea and the US military) – the US got the same commitment to denuclearization that North Korea has made more than a dozen times since 1992, with no particular movement toward actually realizing it.  And in point of fact, to nobody’s surprise North Korea is now rapidly working to strengthen its nuclear arsenal, in direct contradiction to what der Sturmtrumper so proudly declared.

“The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement [that came from this meeting] was what it didn’t contain,” noted the New York Times.  “There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.  Kim seems to have completely out-negotiated Trump, and it’s scary that Trump doesn’t seem to realize this.”

The man whose dealmaking skills led him to go bankrupt while trying to sell red meat, alcohol, and gambling to the American public has maintained his sorry track record of being taken to the cleaners by anyone he tries to negotiate with, and as with every previous time it will be the people around him who suffer and not der Sturmtrumper.  Note carefully that WE are the people around him now.

That sound you hear?  Wa-waaaaah.

Sad trombone.

18. Not that der Sturmtrumper didn’t get anything out of this.  He and the other dictator had a lovely conversation about beachfront condominiums, so perhaps yet another violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution is headed our way.

19. The predicted and predictable results of the Great Reverse Robin Hood Tax Plan shoved through Congress by a GOP unhappy with the fact that inequality is only at near-record highs and eager to make it even worse are in, and they are, well, predictable.  Revenue has declined while spending has increased, and the US posted a budget deficit of $146,800,000,000.00 in May – the largest monthly deficit since 2009, the last year of George W. Bush’s budgetary authority.  This, by the way, has been a trend this year – the first eight months of the current fiscal year has seen the deficit rise 23% to $532,200,000,000.00 (vs. the $432.900,000,000.00 from the previous year).  After seven consecutive budget years of declining deficits under Obama (after the record high deficits of George W. Bush), the federal deficit is expected to hit $800,000,000,000.00 this year and more than $1,000,000,000,000.00 by 2020.

The Republican reputation as the party of fiscal responsibility is the single biggest con job of the last half century in American politics.

20. Continuing on this theme, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report recently that noted that the national debt is now at its highest point since WWII – rapidly approaching $100,000,000,000,000.00 and currently equal to 78% of the entire GDP of one of the largest economies on earth.  Within 30 years, if nothing changes, the debt will reach 152% of GDP, and the tax bill has a “significant and direct” impact on this.  But hey – debt only matters when the black guy is in charge, amiright?  When it’s the white GOP guy, then it’s okay.

21. It’s looking more and more likely that der Sturmtrumper’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, will flip and turn state’s evidence and my won’t that be exciting?  He has split with his own legal team and der Sturmtrumper’s lawyers see nothing good in that.  He has publicly declared that he will put “family and country first,” which list notably omits der Sturmtrumper.  He even thanked the FBI agents who raided his office and home for being “respectful, courteous, and professional.”  “We shook hands,” he said.  Grab yo’ popcorn.

22. Kris Kobach, the GOP nitwit who has been pounding the sand for years in his hallucinatory quest to find enough voter fraud to back up his obvious agenda of voter suppression, got slapped down by the judge when his case finally went to trial.  Federal Judge Julie A. Robinson – a Republican appointee, by the way – pummeled Kobach so hard he’ll be needing aspirin for months.  She found that his voter suppression law was illegal and unconstitutional, that he had no actual evidence to back up any of his claims, that his so called “expert witnesses” were the biggest bunch of liars and fools ever unleashed upon a court of law, and that Kobach’s predatory law actually disenfranchised tens of thousands of legal voters for no justifiable reason.  And since Kobach had personally represented Kansas in this case and had repeatedly violated elemental rules of evidence and discovery while doing so – Law School 101 stuff, really – she sentenced Kobach to remedial legal education. 

It is not clear to the Court whether the Defendant repeatedly failed to meet his disclosure obligations intentionally or due to his unfamiliarity with the federal rules.  Therefore, the Court finds that an additional sanction is appropriate in the form of Continuing Legal Education.  Defendant chose to represent his own office in this matter, and as such, had a duty to familiarize himself with the governing rules of procedure, and to ensure as the lead attorney on this case that his discovery obligations were satisfied despite his many duties as a busy public servant. 

That’s legalese for “you’re too fucking stupid to conduct yourself appropriately in a court of law so go back to school and maybe they can beat some information through your thick partisan skull.”  Good luck with that.

23. The Trump Trade War isn’t going so well.  One of the largest nail manufacturers in the US is about to go bankrupt from the flood of cancelled orders due to the retaliatory tariffs that the rest of the world has imposed on US products, and even that icon of American industry, Harley Davidson, is feeling the pinch – due to the $2200 price increase per motorcycle that this trade war will create, they decided to move some of their production overseas.  And of course der Sturmtrumper did not take that well, threatening to tax them out of existence.  Yes, folks, that’s the US president taking time out of his day to threaten an American business because it’s not toeing the line the way he wants them to.  That’s an impeachable offense, by the way, not that it matters to the GOP.  It’s also more evidence of the creeping totalitarianism that der Sturmtrumper embodies.  But FREEDOM!  Yeah, right.

24. Speaking of totalitarian acts, when Congresswoman Maxine Waters dared to criticize der Sturmtrumper’s policies and urged Americans to resist, der Sturmtrumper took the dictator’s path out and threatened her with bodily harm.  Because when psychotic bullies meet resistance, what else would they do?  Seriously – I didn’t tolerate this nonsense from my toddlers and I see no reason why I’m supposed to tolerate it from someone who is theoretically a grown-up.  Maybe some parent-figure in his life should take him over a knee?  Or is it too late for that?  Probably.  Oh well.  Parents: discipline your children before it’s too late!

25. The Supreme Court’s approval of der Sturmtrumper’s Muslim ban in Trump v. Hawaii will go down in history as one of the most shameful travesties of justice in American history, along with Dred Scott v. Sanford and Korematsu v. US.  To approve what amounts to a religious test on entry into the US based on specious national security grounds is an absolute embarrassment and a disgrace.  How the right-wingers on that court can square their argument that this is somehow not an outright case of religious bigotry (particularly in light of their oh-so-sensitive reaction to any criticism of religion when it comes to baking cakes for gay couples) despite the repeated statements to the contrary by der Sturmtrumper and his minions, lackeys, sycophants, and cronies, is an exercise in contortionism.  The sooner this halfwit crowd is run out of town on a rail, the better for the US and the world.

26. Justice Sonia Sotomayor certainly called out her oblivious colleagues over this issue.  A reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motived by anti-Muslim animus,” she wrote in her stinging dissent from the majority ruling, “The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.”  As for the fig leaf that the majority tried to apply to this appalling decision by formally repudiating the Korematsu decision, Sotomayor was clear: “By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one ‘gravely wrong’ decision with another.”  She concluded with what any reasonably aware person would see as a warning: “Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments.  Because the Court’s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent.”

27. Oh, right.  Now we’re supposed to worry about civility because Sarah “Huckabee” Sanders was told to leave a restaurant because of her participation in and excusing of the worst excesses of an unAmerican regime.  First of all, isn’t this what right-wingers have fought for, the right of private businesses to discriminate against members of the general public for whatever reason comes to mind?  Weren’t they just cheering this decision when it came to bigotry against gay couples wanting cakes?  They never thought they’d be on the receiving end of it, though, and now they’re howling like stuck pigs.  There’s a word in German for this, I’m sure of it.  Oh well.  My guess is that the neo-Nazis who so wholeheartedly support der Sturmtrumper and his policies can fill Sanders in, if she chooses to ask.

Second, let’s review a few things.  This is the president who has publicly slandered all Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, made fun of a handicapped journalist, encouraged (and repeatedly still encourages) his supporters to commit acts of violence and terror against anyone who opposes him, boasted of sexually assaulting women, called Nazis “fine people,” harassed the survivors of a school shooting, and whose supporters routinely wear shirts that say “Fuck your feelings” and call their opponents “snowflakes” for complaining about assholery in general.  This isn’t even getting into the rampant child abuse that he started and continues to implement on the Mexican border, for which he deserves to rot in Hell.  His supporters see no problem with any of this, of course.  Yeah, right.  This is not a group that gets to complain about lack of civility.  This is a group that frankly deserves every asshole thing that can be dished out to them, and the only real question here is whether the rest of us want to sink to their level or not.  I may or may not do so, but I’m not going to complain when others do because it is deserved.

Third, to continue reviewing, isn’t this the same right-wing movement that shouted down members of Congress and sent armed idiots to walk around the perimeters of events where the Actual President was speaking during the 2010 astroturf wars, when fake populism calling itself the Tea Party decided that democracy wasn’t going to get it what it wanted so armed intimidation would?  Isn’t this the same group of assholes who actively cheered when a Virginia bakery asked Vice President Biden to leave back in 2012?  Why yes, yes it is!  Who knew!  Spare me the crocodile tears and the fake outrage and the calls for civility – they don’t want civility and wouldn’t recognize it if you gave it to them.  They want servility, and that they are damn well not going to have.

28. Or to put it another way:

29. Or, for those who want the tl;dnr version:

30.  A warning from Hamilton Nolan’s recent piece on Splinter, entitled “This Is Just the Beginning:”

This is all going to get more extreme. And it should. We are living in extreme times. The harm that is being done to all of us by the people in the American government is extreme. To imagine that Mexican immigrants should happily cook for and serve meals to people who enable a man who is determined to demonize and persecute them as subhuman criminals is far more outrageous than the idea that those enablers should not be served in restaurants. I do not believe that Trump administration officials should be able to live their lives in peace and affluence while they inflict serious harms on large portions of the American population. Not being able to go to restaurants and attend parties and be celebrated is just the minimum baseline here. These people, who are pushing America merrily down the road to fascism and white nationalism, are delusional if they do not think that the backlash is going to get much worse. Wait until the recession comes. Wait until Trump starts a war. Wait until the racism this administration is stoking begins to explode into violence more frequently. Read a fucking history book. Read a recent history book. The U.S. had thousands of domestic bombings per year in the early 1970s. This is what happens when citizens decide en masse that their political system is corrupt, racist, and unresponsive. The people out of power have only just begun to flex their dissatisfaction. The day will come, sooner that you all think, when Trump administration officials will look back fondly on the time when all they had to worry about was getting hollered at at a Mexican restaurant. When you aggressively fuck with people’s lives, you should not be surprised when they decide to fuck with yours.

You can argue whether this is justified or not.  You can argue whether this ought to happen or not.  But don’t be surprised when it happens, whatever you decide.  The United States is not special, it is not unique, and it is subject to the same laws of history as every other polity.  And one of those laws, more or less, is that what goes around comes around.  A properly constructed political system would have pressure valves and feedback mechanisms to ensure that things didn’t get too far out of hand, that the system would be responsive to the people it rules over, but the American political system has become so rigged in favor of the ruling minority that such mechanisms no longer apply.

When the poor have nothing left to eat, they will eat the rich.  The ancien regime crumbled in scenes of shocking violence and terror.  It can happen here, and the current administration is doing everything in its power to make it happen here.

As I’ve said before in this space, I don’t condone political violence in this country but on our current path I do predict it.

31.  More and more people are coming to this conclusion, sadly enough.  Dana Milbank’s recent article in the Washington Post explicitly warns that “An Explosion is Coming.”  After listing the a few of the crimes of the modern GOP against the popular will – multiple Supreme Court nominees from a minority president, nominees whose positions are entirely out of step with the majority of the American population; an entirely minority government (neither der Sturmtrumper nor the GOP members of the Senate nor the GOP members of the House garnered more than half the popular vote in 2016); and so on – he makes a very simple point: “You can only ignore the will of the people for so long and get away with it.”  They’ve been doing it for a while, and this is not sustainable.  “The backlash is coming,” Milbank writes.  “It is the deserved consequence of minority-rule government protecting the rich over everybody else, corporations over workers, whites over non-whites and despots over democracies.  It will explode, God willing, at the ballot box and not in the streets.”

But explode it will.

32. “I think we’re at the beginning of a soft civil war,” said political scientist Thomas Schaller.  “I don’t know if the country gets out of it whole.”  The GOP has been running roughshod over Constitutional and legal restraints for more than a decade now, and eventually something will have to give.  Eventually other people will start to follow their lead, and that won’t end well.

A Bloomberg article by Francis Wilkinson puts it plainly:

Speaking of the GOP, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum said, ‘When highly committed parties strongly believe things that they cannot achieve democratically, they don’t give up on their beliefs – they give up on democracy.’  Democrats won’t give up on democracy.  It’s too central to their identiy, and their commitment to democratic norms and processes is also their point of greatest contrast with Trumpism.  Instead, Democrats will give up on conservatives.  They will give up on Alabama and Mississippi, on Kansas and Nebraska.  They will explore ways to divorce their culture, politics, and economy from Trumpism and from their fellow Americans who support it.

And where that ends up is an interesting question.

33. Nice to see that we can all agree on something.  A bipartisan group of nearly 200 political scientists has ranked der Sturmtrumper at or near the bottom of US presidents.  On a 100-point scale, where 50 is average, der Sturmtrumper averaged a score of 12.34 – below even James Buchanan, the consensus pick for generations for being the guy who sat around with his thumb wedged deeply into his lower intestine while the Civil War broke out around him.  The overall consensus placed der Sturmtrumper 45th out of 45 presidents, and when you just looked at the political scientists who identified as conservative he only improved to 40th.  By contrast, George W. Bush rose five places to 30, Bill Clinton dropped five places to 14, and the top seven – Lincoln, Washington, FDR, TR, Jefferson, Truman, and Eisenhower – remained unchanged.

34. So now Anthony Kennedy is retiring and this gives der Sturmtrumper and his right-wing extremist base a chance to lock in their disastrous reign for a generation.  They need this, because the simple fact is that their agenda is not popular enough to win free and fair elections – the GOP has lost 6 of the last 7 presidential elections if you go by popular vote, and their share of the national vote for Congress has been similarly anemic.  Only because the Senate and Electoral College is thoroughly gerrymandered in favor of rural states (and the House has been thoroughly gerrymandered by GOP state governments to dilute the impact of urban populations) does the GOP survive.  They’re not going to let that change without destroying the country in the process – their basic position is that they deserve power and nobody else does, and if that means burning the place down and pissing on the ashes to keep someone else from ruling well that’s a price they’re willing to have you pay.

35. Five people were killed at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis MD, just days after right-wing terrorist Milo Yiannopoulos called for journalists to be executed by supporters of der Sturmtrumper’s increasingly Fascist regime.  And yet Yiannopoulos walks the streets a free man and isn’t rotting in a jail cell where he belongs.  Folks, this isn’t the beginning of the road to Fascism.  We passed that stage a while ago.  We are seeing a full-on authoritarian dictatorship emerge out of the ruins of the American republic, and the right wing cheers every step of the way.

36. Not that this violence bothered der Sturmtrumper in any way.  After explicitly calling the free press the “enemy of the American People” in those exact words and also words more or less like them on five separate occasions in the last eighteen months, nobody should be surprised by the fact that he ignored reporters’ questions on the massacre and refused to offer any words of condolence for the families when pressed on June 29.  Dictators don’t do that sort of thing, after all.

37. I do get criticism for calling der Sturmtrumper and the modern GOP petit-Fascists, but you know…

38. Also, this.

39. And here it is, right on cue: in order to pay for their massive tax giveaways to the already wealthy, the GOP is going to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  Their proposed FY 2019 budget calls for $537,000,000,000.00 in cuts to Medicare, $4,000,000,000.00 in cuts to Social Security, and $1,500,000,000,000.00 in cuts to Medicaid.  Because the wealthy deserve to live in ease and luxury on the backs of the poor and middle class, of course.  YOU are paying for those tax cuts that benefit people who could buy you out of petty cash and who value your life accordingly.  All those who are surprised by this, please state your name, your IQ, and what you were doing that put you in that coma when every responsible observer was shouting to the rooftops that exactly this would happen.

40. Back of the bus, y’all.

41. Speaking of trade wars, Mexico has decided that they’ve had enough bullying from der Sturmtrumper and is working to establish better trade relations with Argentina – relations that will allow them to buy all of their corn, rice, wheat, and soy from Argentina duty free.  In exchange they will ship cars made in Mexico to Argentina without duties.  This will likely cost American farmers upwards of $13,000,000,000.00.  Is America great yet?  Although much of the population hardest hit by this voted for their own economic evisceration, so how much sympathy one can have is a bit of a trick to determine, isn’t it?

42. Space Force?  SPACE FORCE?  Seriously?  What comic book nonsense is this?

43. You know things are bad for the GOP when Ted Cruz is telling people to vote for the Democrat.  But when an open and proud Nazi wins the nomination for the GOP ticket for a Congressional seat in Illinois, what else can he do?  “This is horrific,” he said.  “An avowed Nazi running for Congress.  To the good people of Illinois, you have two reasonable choices: write in another candidate, or vote for the Democrat.  This bigoted fool should receive ZERO votes.”  Now, on the one hand, good for Cruz to recognize this and to say it publicly.  I'm not a great fan of Ted Cruz, but credit where due.  On the other hand, what does it say about the GOP that this guy got nominated in the first place – that the GOP couldn’t find anyone willing to run against the Nazi and so many GOP voters saw nothing wrong with the Nazi?  Nothing good, that’s what.

44. Betsy DeVos is emailing teachers to tell them to quit their unions.  Teachers in Massachusetts have been receiving emails from a shadowy organization called MyPayMySay urging them to cut their own economic throats and leave their unions.  MyPayMySay is funded by the Mackinac Center from Michigan, which is in turn funded by the DeVos Foundation.  Yet another reason why this corrupt hack should be exiled to an uninhabited island somewhere cold and cut off from all human society, but there is no justice under der Sturmtrumper so she will continue to suck off the public tit while simultaneously insisting that Other People get no assistance at all.

45. Did you know that Anthony Kennedy had already hired clerks for next term?  That’s not someone who intended to retire.  Except that his son works for Deutsche Bank, which is the institution indicted for laundering money for Russian oligarchs, and his son’s client was none other than der Sturmtrumper, for whom he had arranged millions of dollars in loans.  This is where the Mueller investigation has been headed, and this is not something a sitting Supreme Court justice can survive, especially if – as is entirely possible – der Sturmtrumper appeals some of the charges up to the Court.  The appearance of conflict of interest here is pretty strong, and the more that comes to light about this whole tawdry affair the worse it looks for both Kennedy and der Sturmtrumper. 

46. Keep this in mind, all you who think the forced retirement of Anthony Kennedy is your golden opportunity to strip women of their right to control their own bodies:


Katherine McKay said...

OUTSTANDING! Though thoroughly damaging to my blood pressure and sanity, what little sanity I have left after 18 months of Trump. I do not want impeachment for this "president." I want to see him marched into a federal penitentiary along with the cabal of criminals that surround him.

David said...

Impeachment is the first step in that process, but yes - the man has been a grifter and a con artist for half a century and now he is destroying the United States the same way he destroyed every company he ever ran, and we do have grey-painted institutions specifically designed for such miscreants.

I only maintain my sanity by hollering now and then.

James A. Brown said...

I do enjoy these posts. I try to keep up with the latest goings-on, but you always manage to mention something I've missed.

David said...

Thanks! It does come at you straight from the fire hose, and I know I miss things as well. It's a Gish Gallop of atrocities with this administration.

LucyInDisguise said...


I nice round number. Can't wait till it attaches to the next President with a different name.

I fear for my sanity till then ...


David said...

You and me both, Lucy.

I find that I can preserve my sanity best in a tightly sealed mason jar that I keep on a shelf in my kitchen. The times don't really call for it now, and this way it will be fresh when I need it.

LucyInDisguise said...

I knew there had to be a secret.

In my fantasy, not even one incumbent rethuglican survives the midterms. (Delusional, I know, but therein lies the secret to the crooked smile on my face ...) Doing our best to throw Heller out and elect Jacky Rosen.

Enjoy your Independence Day celebration. My wife has me in front of the BBQ cooking burgers and dogs in a few hours, despite the fact that the Fahrenheits number nearly 100 out there, with winds trotting by at 30 m.p.h. Skipping the whole fireworks thingy tonight, so dry even a hot thought is enough to start a wildfire.

That fire we had last year was enough entertainment for a lifetime.


David said...

I applaud your efforts to elect Rosen and good luck to you.

The GOP needs a shattering blow - a loss that will splinter it into squabbling factions so mutually hostile that it loses all semblance of cohesion - so that the grownups can form an actual conservative party and leave the mewling right-wing radicals that have taken over the GOP in the last 25-40 years to their own devices. I was hoping der Sturmtrumper was that blow, but I underestimated the popularity of petit-Fascism in the US and the spinelessness of the GOP leaders (who I thought would at least have an eye out for long-term power, but I guess not).

Our Independence Day was nice though nearly as hot - upper 90s until the storm came through, then lower 90s and muggy. I joined you on the grill, and a good time was had by all. We have too many young kids at these things to skip the city fireworks, and some friends brought a big box of their own (mostly fountains). The joy of the fact that it has rained pretty much every other day for a month is that few things are dry enough to burn around here and this former volunteer firefighter is glad of that.